Last month was a busy time for the Oishi Group, best known for its green tea products and Japanese-style a la carte and buffet restaurants. One of its Shabushi restaurants opened in Yangon in July, the first of 10 branches the group plans to open in ASEAN countries.
“It is too early to judge the performance or praise the new restaurant,” said Marut Buranasetkul, president and CEO of Oishi Group. Mr Marut prefers to wait a month or two before making an assessment, but the initial response has been very encouraging. “We have a full house every day. People queue up and wait. That’s quite surprising because the price of 500 baht per head is quite high [compared to the cost of living in Myanmar].
“All I can say at the moment is we are a pioneer of Japanese-style food in Myanmar and we’re successful at setting a high standard for our products and service.”
Mr Marut was promoted to head of the Oishi Group in August last year. One of his given tasks was to expand into Southeast Asia. For Mr Marut, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be a large market with great diversity and many business opportunities. He classifies this market into three groups.
The first is the venture market, which comprises Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, where the company will sell products but not make other investments. “We won’t invest in those markets, at least not for now,” he said. “Consumers’ income and local laws need to develop more.”