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After 11 Years, Jollibee Group's Tim Ho Wan Finally Makes Its Big Debut in China

The Hong Kong brand finally enters the Chinese market.
IMAGE Jollibee Group
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Tim Ho Wan, the critically acclaimed dim sum restaurant chain from Hong Kong, has finally made its debut in mainland China 11 years after its inception. China’s first-ever Tim Ho Wan is located in Shanghai, the financial hub that is home to over 24 million people.

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On Tim Ho Wan’s first day in mainland China, the pioneering branch was met with a full waiting list and long lines of customers eager to try the restaurant’s signature Baked BBQ Pork Buns, Rice Rolls, and Pan-Fried Radish Cake. Despite being on the same continent as mainland China for 11 years, Tim Ho Wan has never officially entered the Chinese economy until now.

The very first store in China is located in Jang’in Kerry Center, Shanghai
Photo by Jollibee Group.
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Founded in Mong Kok, Hong Kong in 2009, the first Tim Ho Wan store was awarded a sought-after Michelin star just one year after opening. The success of the first store encouraged the team behind the restaurant to open more branches until the brand became a chain.

In 2018, the Jollibee Group from the Philippines purchased the Asia Pacific franchise (excluding Hong Kong) of international brand Tim Ho Wan for $33 million (P1.6 billion), adding all the branches in the region to Jollibee’s growing portfolio. Now with Jollibee’s direction, Tim Ho Wan will open 100 restaurants in mainland China within the next five years, with the second store opening at the end of the year. Some cities Jollibee and Tim Ho Wan will target are Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns, Rice Rolls, and Pork & Shrimp Dumplings
Photo by Tim Ho Wan.
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All the Tim Ho Wan restaurants in China will be opened and operated by Jollibee Group, as agreed in its joint venture agreement with Tim Ho Wan Group.

“The core of Tim Ho Wan is to serve delicious authentic Hong Kong dim sum to more people at a good value for money, and this is why we believe that Tim Ho Wan is a great addition to the Jollibee Group’s portfolio,” said Jollibee Group CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong.

A fast-growing food business, the Filipino conglomerate from humble beginnings aims to be one of the top five restaurant brands in the world. Jollibee Group operates in 35 countries with around 5,800 restaurants and counting. Outside of Tim Ho Wan, it owns Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal, Smashburger, Yonghe King, and Hong Zhuang Yuan. Meanwhile, it owns the franchised brands of Burger King and Panda Express in the Philippines and Dunkin’ Donuts in China. It also owns 80 percent of global brands Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Highlands Coffee, and PHO24.

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The pandemic might be upon us, but the food giant knows that when this is all over, people will be hungry. And it’s got a big and wild roster to serve all the possible cravings the entire world might have.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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