Asian grocery business launches franchise

By Sarah Stowe | 07 Apr 2020 View comments

Not your average corner store, the Yahweh Asian Grocery store business has a distinct point of difference in the franchising sector.

Stephen Lim set up the Asian grocery business 10 years ago with a store in Carlton. He added a Highpoint shopping centre outlet three years later, and has since sold the original store and opened another outlet at Moonee Ponds Central.

“In the last two years we started to look to restructure the business to look into franchising. 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.”

What the grocery can offer is a quite upmarket store presentation, complete with timber shelving, that distinguishes it from typical independent Asian groceries and attracts a variety of customers.

The design is costlier than a traditional metal shelving fitout 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.”