Manchester United seeks growth in food and bev

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 7th July 2008

Manchester United Food and Beverage (MUFB) is planning a raft of restaurants and bars in the Korean capital and beyond as the club looks to build on the success of its franchises in Indonesia.

South Korea-Manchester United (MUFB)

Arguably the most popular sporting club in the world, Manchester United gave exclusive rights to Singapore-based MUFB Asia to own, operate, license and develop a chain of Manchester United Restaurant & Bars in the Asia-Pacific region. The venues typically provide Asian, English and American food, while also having Manchester United memorabilia and a bar with a large “video wall” showcasing live United games and other sporting events.

MUFB Asia was created back in 2002, but the business has been slow to build following the failure of their first restaurant, in China. Since the closure of that outlet they have opened two stores in Indonesia, which have proven to be more successful.

United continue to build their presence in Asia and have now announced plans to open 25 restaurants and bars in Korea by 2010. Thailand and Japan have been identified as other opportunities with restaurants due to open in Bangkok and Tokyo, and a report by Crain’s suggests that China and India could also be incorporated in expansion plans.

The concept behind the brand extension is to strengthen the connection between the club and their millions of supporters. “These will not be just restaurants and bars,” Kim Chi Gon, the CEO of MUFB Korea, proclaimed. “They will be places where fans can really feel closer to Manchester United and the world’s best football players.”

Manchester United has seen interest in their brand escalate considerably in Asia in recent years and the decision to enter the South Korean marketplace would, in part, be due to the popularity they have gained since acquiring star Korean midfielder Ji-sung Park in 2005. Park is a national celebrity and the tour by the club of South Korea last year only enhanced their profile.

The success of the expansion will be intriguing and, if they are a hit, then expect many more sporting clubs to look to capitalise on their brand strength with similar offerings to improve revenue streams and increase connection with their fans.