Entrepreneur Jay Gouldâ€™s first foray into the Far East didnâ€™t make him rich, but it did make him wiser. New York Fries, the Toronto-based fast-food chain he co-founded with his brother in 1984, licensed its concept to a franchisee in Korea during the late â€™90s. Gould appreciates that tastes differ between cultures, but says his foreign partner constantly tried to water down a concept designed to work internationally. â€œThe South Koreans are an honourable people, but they are determined to do it their way or get their point across,â€ he says. Making matters worse, Gould learned the franchisee wasnâ€™t as rich as he believed.
New York Fries still has four stores in Korea, but needs at least two more to buy efficiently and have a notable market presence. Looking back, Gould says, â€œDonâ€™t believe everything people tell you. In general, there are lots of people with big hats and no cattle out there.â€
Gould, though, appears to have learned his lesson. A licensee in the United Arab Emirates has opened nine stores since 2002, with plans to launch three more before Christmas. That company is well funded and has diligently followed the franchise agreement. â€œWeâ€™re so very excited about our development there, amused even that something with a name like New York Fries can work anywhere in the Middle East,â€ Gould says. Heâ€™s also planning to open stores in Hong Kong and Macau, and maybe even mainland China eventually. Read more.
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