Asian grocery chain set to franchise

By Sarah Stowe | 08 Apr 2020 View comments

A Melbourne-based Asian grocery franchise is set to launch this year.

Stephen Lim set up the Yahweh Asian grocery business 10 years ago in Carlton. Today there are two outlets, one at Highpoint Centre and one at Moonee Ponds Central.

Lim told Inside Franchise Business the plan to restructure the business into a franchise model began two years ago.

“We noticed there were no Asian groceries operating under the franchise model. It’s always hard to be the first because people do look for well-known brands in franchising.”

Lim is taking an upmarket approach with the brand to distinguish the brand from typical independent Asian groceries.

A contemporary store design includes timber shelving. It’s a costlier fitout than a traditional metal shelving option and needs to conform to shopping centre standards. However, with help from the franchisor to negotiate a lease the franchisee will likely also benefit from a landlord’s fitout contribution.

A 100sqm store is expected to have a turnkey cost of about $250,000.

“Retail is challenging, but where we have an advantage is in the number of enquiries from shopping centres. Rental prices have dropped too,” says Lim.

There are limited opening times, in line with shopping centre trading hours: typically 9 to 5 or 6pm.

“People are looking for bigger brands which seem to be secure. One question is ‘why couldn’t I just operate my own independent business, what benefits would I get?’

“We have about 1500 products and we take on board the ordering process. Any new franchisee doesn’t need to worry about what to order or where from the system tracks this for them.”

The expansion goal is realistic: to bring on just one franchisee in the next 12 months.

“We’ll start in Melbourne first, then develop interstate as it progresses.”