McDonald’s to bring Big Mac to Vietnam

July 16, 2013 1:56 am

McDonald’s to bring Big Mac to Vietnam

By Jeremy Grant in Singapore

Vietnam is finally set to get its first taste of the Big Mac after US burger chainMcDonald’s said it would open its first outlet in the communist-run country early next year. The Illinois-based company said it had appointed a Vietnamese businessman, Henry Nguyen, an overseas Vietnamese who returned to the country a decade ago, as “developmental licensee” to “build the [McDonald’s] brand” in the country. The first outlet would be in Ho Chi Minh City, the commercial hub. McDonald’s said the menu would include the Big Mac sandwich, cheeseburgers and fries. The move, which makes Vietnam the 38th Asian country in which McDonald’s operates, highlights how the country is fast becoming one of the most attractive consumer markets in southeast Asia, even as its economy is among the worst performing.In February, Starbucks, the US coffee chain, opened its first outlet, also in Ho Chi Minh City, increasing its presence across Asia to 12 countries.

Other US chains already in Vietnam include Subway and Yum! Brands’ KFC and Pizza Hut. Jollibee, the largest fast food group in the Philippines, is expanding in Vietnam through a joint venture with the owner of Highlands Coffee, Vietnam’s leading upmarket coffee shop chain.

The entry of McDonald’s also marks the arrival of arguably the most iconic of US food brands decades after the end of the Vietnam war.

US food and drinks products were popular in the former South Vietnam until the war ended with communist victory in 1975, forcing companies like Coca-Cola to abandon the market.

Coca-Cola and rival Pepsi re-established themselves in the mid 1990s. McDonald’s never had a presence in South Vietnam.

The company first looked at Vietnam over a decade ago, but lack of a domestic source of beef cattle and poor supply chain infrastructure meant the market was not suitable.

The company’s strong association with US culture also caused problems. In the mid-1990s, the people’s committee of the city of Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, briefly banned McDonald’s from the city.

The contract with Mr Nguyen, who once flipped burgers at a McDonald’s outlet while a student in the US, was the result of a “rigorous” selection process that began years ago, the company said.

“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,” said Dave Hoffmann, president of McDonald’s Asia Pacific.

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

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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