Asia Briefing: McDonald’s to open in Ho Chi Minh City next year

McDonald’s, above in Shenzhen, China, is to open its first outlet in Vietnam in 2014, joining companies such as Starbucks which arrived there this year

McDonald’s, above in Shenzhen, China, is to open its first outlet in Vietnam in 2014, joining companies such as Starbucks which arrived there this year

Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 01:00

The opening of a McDonald’s restaurant has become an iconic moment in the opening up of a country, and Vietnam’s first Golden Arches is planned to open in Ho Chi Minh City in early 2014.

The US chain comes late to Vietnam, where the expanding middle class and aspirational youth population is fond of Western brands and increasingly have money to spend.

Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Saigon. It was here that the US-backed government fell to communist troops 40 years ago at the end of the Vietnam War.

With the advent of communism, foreign brands disappeared from Vietnam, but the country started opening up its economy in the 1990s.

Last year, it relaxed investment restrictions to allow companies dependent on supply chains to work more easily in the country.

Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, South Korea’s Lotteria and Jollibee Foods from the Philippines already have a strong presence in Vietnam.

There appears to be room for more foreign food brands, however. Coffee chain Starbucks opened its first outlet in the country earlier this year and has been very successful.

The food of choice for most people in Vietnam is pho, the local noodle dish that is also popular in other parts of the continent, but young Vietnamese consumers will soon be able to chow down on Big Macs, cheeseburgers and fries.

The licence was awarded to Henry Nguyen, founder of Good Day Hospitality and managing partner of IDG Ventures Vietnam. He has more than €76 million invested in technology, media, telecommunications and consumer companies in Vietnam; he also happens to be the son-in-law of prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung.


Understanding the brand
“As we grow our presence in the Asia region, we are looking for partners with a blend of strong business acumen and a unique understanding of our brand,” Dave Hoffmann, president of McDonald’s Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, said in a statement.

“Henry Nguyen is that ideal business partner who has an impressive business background and proven track record in driving new business ventures in Vietnam.”

Mr Nguyen worked in McDonald’s in the US when he was a student. “I have been a big fan of McDonald’s my whole life and have had so many wonderful experiences there, including one of my first jobs when I was a teenager,” he said.

“I have dreamed of one day opening a McDonald’s restaurant in my native country ever since my return to Vietnam more than a decade ago. I have been in contact with McDonald’s over the years.”

More than 80 per cent of McDonald’s restaurants are owned by local operators, the company said.