Central Group buying Dean & Deluca rights outside US

Thailand’s Central Group is set to acquire the Dean & Deluca chain of deli-cafes outside the US from Thai luxury property developer Pace Development for US$50 million.

The deal is in the due diligence process, says Pace, which acquired the chain through its subsidiary Pace Food Retail for $140 million in 2014. Dean & Deluca was founded in the US in 1977.

Under the agreement, the Thai retail giant will be licensed to run and expand the business outside the US while Pace retains ownership of the brand, runs the chain in the US and owns the right to produce and distribute consumer products under the Dean & Deluca trademark.

Pace CEO Sorapoj Techakraisri says Central Group has the financial resources, expertise and knowledge to handle the day-to-day business of the stores, logistics and licensee relationships.

“Having Central as a partner will give Dean & Deluca healthy growth globally,” he says.

Pace, which develops luxury residential properties, has reported operating losses for five consecutive quarters, reaching THB1.7 billion ($50.9 million) last quarter.

Currently, the company is developing four projects worth THB34 billion in total, including the Ritz-Carlton Residences Bangkok.

The original Dean & Deluca was an iconic delicatessen in New York which continues to trade to this day. In Thailand, Pace converted the concept into more of a cafe business, before expanding outside Thailand, including in the Middle East, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and the Philippines. It was pursuing an aggressive expansion strategy in Asia.

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