SINGAPORE (Dec 8): Japan Foods Holding has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Minor Singapore to expand the geographical reach of their respective brands by franchising and operating their existing restaurant brands in Japan, Thailand, and China.

Japan Foods’ flagship brands include Ajisen Ramen, Menya Mushashi and Osaka Ohsho.

On the other hand, Minor Singapore is an indirect subsidiary of Thailand’s Minor International Public Company. Its brands in Singapore include Thai Express, Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe and Poulet.  

With the formation of a 50-50 joint venture (JV) company under the terms of the MoU, Japan Foods intends to oversee, develop and manage the JV company’s Thai cuisine restaurant operation in Japan and provide technical support and expertise in the preparation of Japanese cuisine.

Minor Singapore will do likewise for the JV’s Japanese cuisine restaurant operations in Thailand and China, while providing technical support and expertise in the preparation of Thai cuisine.  

In a filing to the SGX on Friday, Japan Foods says the MoU marks a significant milestone in its plans to break into the F&B scene in Thailand and Japan, as well as the group’s strategy to expand into new markets through JVs with leading operators.

It adds that the MoU opens doors for Japan Foods to launch certain brands from its portfolio – aside from Menya Musashi, which already has a presence in China and Hong Kong through its associated companies – in China and Thailand through the JV company.

“This is a big breakthrough for Japan Foods because it is the fulfilment of a long-time vision of the group to have a presence in the Japanese market. We have been bringing Japanese cuisine brands to Singapore for more than two decades and we have waited a long time to introduce some regional flavours to Japan,” says Takahashi Kenichi, executive chairman and CEO of Japan Foods.

“We believe we have finally found the right partner in Minor Singapore, whose brands such as ‘Thai Express’ are very established in Singapore and elsewhere, and we are optimistic that the well-travelled Japanese people who enjoy international cuisine will also respond encouragingly to it,” he adds.

Shares in Japan Foods closed flat at 46 cents on Friday.