Leading international operators to be honored at GRLC

Standouts in four aspects of the business will be presented with 2019 Distinction Awards.

Four operators from the international restaurant market will be honored at next month’s Global Restaurant Leadership Conference (GRLC) for their standout performances in areas critical to the success of any global foodservice brand.

The winners of this year’s GRLC Distinction Awards range from an overseas arm of a multiconcept franchisor based in North America to a Parisian-style bakery-cafe chain whose operations are concentrated in Asia.

The honorees were selected by a selection committee that included representatives of Technomic, Restaurant Business and GRLC. All three of those operations are owned by Winsight LLC, a media and research company based in Chicago.

Here are the four winners in their respective awards categories, along with some of the reasoning behind their selection and who’ll be accepting the honor on behalf of their companies at the conference, which is scheduled for Nov. 3-6 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore:

Best Partner: SPC Group (Korea)

Best known as the parent of the Paris Baguette bakery-cafe brand, SPC also operates a handful of smaller chain restaurant concepts, from Caffe Pascucci, a coffee operation, to Lina’s and Tomati, a sandwich specialist. It is also works with Jamba, the smoothie chain now owned by U.S.-based Focus Brands. The company won praise from the selection group for its interactions and communications between franchisee and franchisor, as well as its collaborative expansion efforts.

Accepting on SPC’s behalf will be EVP Jin-Soo Hur.

For Growth: Restaurant Brands International (Canada)

As the franchisor of Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Tim Hortons, Restaurant Brands has been on an expansion surge beyond its home North American market. The addition of Popeyes has given it a potent new growth vehicle, given the global popularity of chicken. Overseas expansion of the fried chicken chain and Burger King has come both through deeper penetration of existing markets and the entry into new areas. Sales and profit figures show that the overseas expansion of those brands has not come at the expense of domestic operations. 

Accepting on Restaurant Brands’ behalf will be Sami Siddiqui, president of Burger King and Popeyes operations in the Asia Pacific, Australia and China; and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

For Innovation: Dodo Pizza (Russia)

Founded in 2011 with less than $50,000 from the savings of founder and current CEO Fyodor Ovchinnikov, the brand has grown to 510 units in 12 countries, including its homeland, where it’s larger than Domino’s and Papa John’s combined. Systemwide sales hit $215 million last year. Due in part to its young age, Dodo is a true digital-first operation, relying on proprietary operating systems. It has also committed to being transparent to both customers and employees.

 Ovchinnikov will be accepting for his brand.

For Community Service: The Minor Food Group (Thailand)

One of the world’s largest foodservice operators, Minor now consists of 44 casual and quick-service brands, both proprietary (Thai Kitchen, Basil Thai Kitchen) and franchised from recognized American brands (Sizzler, Dairy Queen, Swensen’s, Burger King). All told, it operates 2,229 restaurants in 27 countries. But size hasn’t kept the diversified company from emerging as a leader in sustainability and giving back to the markets it serves. The Minor School Project aims to teach children English, the universal language of science and business. It has transformed its supply chain into a green pipeline and is active in reducing plastic waste.

Accepting for Minor is Dellen Soh, executive chairman of Minor Food Group’s Singapore division.

The four operations will be saluted at GRLC, a gathering of more than 1,000 operators from around the globe.

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