CKE Restaurants Inc. announced today its subsidiary, Carl Karcher Enterprises Inc., has signed an agreement to open a minimum of 100 Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the People’s Republic of China over the next eight years. The deal will bring SGX-listed BreadTalk Group Limited, a leading lifestyle Food and Beverage group, and Aspac F&B International Pte Ltd together with CKE, granting franchise rights for the Carl’s Jr. brand in the municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, as well as the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu in China.

This agreement is part of CKE Restaurants’ overall strategic plan to accelerate franchise development in international markets. Today’s agreement represents the first phase in CKE’s expansion effort to develop Carl’s Jr. restaurants throughout the People’s Republic of China. Currently, CKE franchises 294 international units between both its Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands. CKE is expected to open its 300th international restaurant during the second quarter of the current fiscal year.

Aspac is currently a successful Carl’s Jr. licensee in Singapore and Malaysia operating 10 Carl’s Jr. restaurants. BreadTalk has a network of 199 bakery outlets, with 83 company owned outlets in Singapore, PRC, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand, and 116 franchised outlets across Asia and the Middle East. BreadTalk also owns and operates five world-renowned Din Tai Fung restaurants in Singapore, as well as 27 award-winning Megabite/Food Republic food atria in Singapore, PRC, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

“We are pleased to announce this agreement and our new partnership with BreadTalk and to expand our successful relationship with Aspac,” says Andrew F. Puzder, president and CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc. “This is a very exciting development for our company. The People’s Republic of China represents a tremendous growth opportunity. The strength of our brand matched with Aspac’s operating experience with Carl’s Jr. in Singapore and Malaysia, along with the BreadTalk Group’s local market knowledge and operating experience, gives us confidence that we have a bright future in the market. This agreement and the agreements we announced yesterday for the Pakistan market serve to emphasize our company’s continuing commitment to international growth and development.”

According to Dr. George Quek, chairman of BreadTalk Group, “The average consumer in China’s first line cities, having been exposed to a varied offering of Western fast food, is now primed for more discerning menu items such as premium burgers. In this regard, BreadTalk Group is pleased to partner with CKE Restaurants Inc. and Aspac in introducing a premium gourmet U.S. burger chain, Carl’s Jr., into Beijing and Shanghai. The experience and track record of the BreadTalk Group in the PRC would facilitate the rollout and reach of Carl’s Jr. outlets. We are confident that the Carl’s Jr. brand will find ready acceptance after the first stores are opened in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively, before March 2009.”

“In the last five years or so, we have seen a significant rise in the demand for overseas premier brands in the quick-serve industry due to irreversible rising consumerism and economic conditions. After studying the market, conducting our due diligence, and sourcing the right partner, Aspac is very excited to partner with CKE Restaurants Inc. and the BreadTalk Group to roll out Carl’s Jr. as the leading premium burger brand in the territories of Beijing and Shanghai. Our very successful launch of the Carl’s Jr. brand in Singapore and Malaysia over the past three years has proven the attractiveness of the brand’s product offering and premium brand positioning to consumers between the ages of 18 and 35 years in these rising Asian countries,” adds Richard Tan, chairman of Aspac F&B International Pte. Ltd.

News, Carl's Jr., CKE