Lao noo­dle fran­chise stretch­ing out to more than five Asean coun­tries

The Nation - - BUSINESS -

A LEADINGLao noo­dle fran­chise is en­thu­si­as­ti­cally seek­ing ways to open noo­dle restau­rants in more than five Asean coun­tries over the next 10 years, after tak­ing its Sep Eeli brand restau­rant to Phuket.

The restau­rant, well known in Vientiane for its fish- flavoured noo­dle soup or rice noo­dle soup with fish meat­balls, is set to open more branches in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries in the years to come.

The fran­chise owner and founder, Lat­samy Vet­saphong, 48, said many po­ten­tial busi­ness part­ners have ex­pressed in­ter­est in buy­ing the fran­chise to op­er­ate restau­rants in Europe and Asean.

Sep Eeli noo­dle soup joints will be open­ing in Cambodia, Malaysia and Viet­nam in the near fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to Lat­samy.

At present, she has eight noo­dle shops at var­i­ous shop­ping malls in Vientiane. “We are in the process of con­duct­ing qual­ity checks of our prod­ucts to make sure they are in line with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. We’d also like to be­come a sup­plier of in­stant noo­dles and in­gre­di­ents in the fu­ture,” she said.

The busi­ness­woman wants to make noo­dles for ex­port, but be­lieves co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bour­ing coun­tries will be im­por­tant. “We have no fac­tory to pro­duce qual­ity noo­dles,” she said.

Laos will need to fo­cus on sev­eral is­sues, such as train­ing skilled work­ers and engi­neers to cre­ate prod­ucts that would be ac­cepted in re­gional and global mar­kets. “We have the best nat­u­ral re­sources among the coun­tries of the world, for ex­am­ple, our wood... as an Egyp­tian fur­ni­ture busi­ness­man told me re­cently. But the prob­lem is that the qual­ity of fur­ni­ture is still low,” she said.

“If we really know how to make the best use of the qual­ity wood, it would be more in­ter­est­ing for for­eign mar­kets,” she added.

Lat­samy has asked the au­thor­i­ties to pro­mote vo­ca­tional schools that will pro­duce engi­neers to help drive exports from Lao busi­nesses.

“We have few engi­neers with ex­ten­sive knowl­edge,” she com­plained, urg­ing her gov­ern­ment to take lessons from Sin­ga­pore and Ger­many.

Lat­samy grad­u­ated in Laos in 1989 be­fore study­ing eco­nomic plan­ning in the erst­while Soviet Union. After two years there, she re­turned home to work with the Min­istry of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion in 1991 be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal prob­lems in the Soviet Union. But she quit a few years later to join the fam­ily busi­ness.

Things have yet to change in Laos, she said, be­cause the engi­neers or ex­perts learn from ex­pe­ri­ence, but still do not have ad­e­quate the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge. This is one rea­son that many Lao busi­ness own­ers use for­eign engi­neers or ex­perts to help them run their op­er­a­tions.

As Asean com­pa­nies ex­pand re­gion­ally, the Asia News Net­work (ANN) cel­e­brates the 50th anniversary of Asean by pro­fil­ing com­pa­nies and their re­spec­tive CEOs to ex­plore South­east Asian busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges. The Na­tion is a found­ing mem­ber of the ANN.

LAT­SAMY

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