300 Paris Baguette stores to open in US

The Korea Times - - BUSINESS - By Kang Se­ung-woo ksw@ktimes.com

The na­tion’s food and bev­er­age gi­ant SPC Group seeks to ex­pand its U.S. busi­ness five­fold by 2020.

Its Chair­man Hur Young-in un­veiled his plans dur­ing a meet­ing, Tues­day, with U.S. House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce and Con­gress­man Ami Bera in Seoul.

The two U.S. politi­cians were vis­it­ing Korea to dis­cuss ex­pand­ing U.S. trade op­por­tu­ni­ties and es­tab­lish­ing new part­ner­ships in Korea. Royce and Bera are co-chairs of the Con­gres­sional Cau­cus on Korea.

“We are plan­ning to in­crease the num­ber of Paris Baguette stores in op­er­a­tion in the United States to 300 by 2020, cre­at­ing up to 10,000 new jobs,” Hur told Royce dur­ing their meet­ing at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters in Seoul.

Royce was quoted as say­ing Paris Baguette has con­trib­uted to job cre­ation in the U.S. by em­ploy­ing more than 1,500 peo­ple and it will play a key role in the global food in­dus­try in the future.

SPC es­tab­lished a U.S. west coast af­fil­i­ate in 2002 and opened Amer­ica’s first Paris Baguette in Los An­ge­les three years later. Af­ter rapidly ex­pand­ing its foot­ing in the coun­try, Paris Baguette achieved huge suc­cess on the east coast as well, with the num­ber of stores in the U.S. to­tal­ing 57.

In 2016, the com­pany in­vested more than $48 mil­lion (53.8 bil­lion won) to re­port an­nual sales of $100 mil­lion and bring 1,500 new jobs to the coun­try.

“I could not be more thrilled to see these thriv­ing busi­nesses in­vest re­sources, and most im­por­tantly, bring jobs into the U.S. The im­pact of CJ Foods and SPC Group on the U.S. econ­omy can­not be de­nied,” Royce said on his of­fi­cial web­site.

“As one of the first sup­port­ers of KORUS FTA, I’m proud of the pos­i­tive im­pact that our eco­nomic al­liance with these com­pa­nies is hav­ing on the peo­ple of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and I know that suc­cess sto­ries like these will con­tinue to grow in local com­mu­ni­ties through­out the U.S.”

KORUS FTA refers to the free trade agree­ment be­tween Korea and the U.S., which went into ef­fect in 2012.

How­ever, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, call­ing it a “job-killing” pact, re­quested rene­go­ti­a­tion of the bi­lat­eral deal. As a re­sult, the two coun­tries have started talks.

How­ever, there is ev­i­dence Wash­ing­ton ben­e­fited from the five-year-old con­tract more than Seoul.

For ex­am­ple, the U.S. Depart­ment of Com­merce said the FTA ben­e­fited both coun­tries — while global trade de­creased 12 per­cent since sign­ing the deal, trade be­tween Korea and the U.S. in­creased 12 per­cent be­tween 2011 and 2016.

Cour­tesy of SPC Group

SPC Group Chair­man Hur Young-in, right, poses with U.S. House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce dur­ing their meet­ing at the Korean firm’s head­quar­ters in Seoul, Tues­day.

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