French-Asian bakery Tous les Jours pushes franchise into the United States | Franchise financing
“I think we can reach 1,000 stores… We have 1,300 in South Korea, and the population is only one-tenth that of the United States.”
—Tony Ahn, CEO, Everyday USA
Tous les jours means “every day” in French, and the French-Asian bakery-café chain hopes to make its artisan pastries, gourmet cakes and fresh bread a daily habit in its US push. With more than 70 cafes in the United States, 1,631 worldwide, and $697 million in system sales in 2021, Everyday debuts in the Franchise Times Top 500 this year at No. 122.
But the chain’s roots date back to 1953 amid the devastation of the Korean War and the launch of Cheil Jedang, now known as CJ Group and one of the largest family-controlled ‘chaebol’ or conglomerates. . Founder Lee Byung-chull built a sugar mill in Busan, South Korea, to reduce the country’s reliance on expensive sugar imports, then followed with a flour mill using Korean-made machinery in 1958.
Forays into artificial seasonings followed, along with other products like a hangover remedy called Condition and instant cooked rice called Hetbahn. Ever since CJ parted ways with Samsung in 1993, it has branched out into restoration and restoration; biopharmaceuticals; entertainment and media; and home shopping and logistics. Its restaurant brands include VIPS Steakhouse, A Twosome Place, Bibigo, Seafood Ocean and Fisher’s Market, as well as Everyday.
CJ even caused a stir in Hollywood. The 2019 South Korean dark comedy thriller “Parasite” was produced by CJ and made history in 2020 when it became the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Oscar. Recently, the group acquired Endeavor Content, a Hollywood film studio that produced the movie “La La Land,” which infamously “won” the Oscar by mistake in 2017 due to misplaced cue cards, only to have the right winner, “Moonlight”, take the reward.
CJ Group continues to make the news despite its family ties to Samsung, a feud between heirs to the Samsung fortune, and even a presidential pardon.
CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-Hyun was convicted in 2014 of tax evasion and embezzlement, and released from prison in August 2016 as part of an annual presidential pardon.
“Deep Dive” into American Culture
Enter Tony Ahn, CEO of Tous les Jours and a South Korean with a socialite resume who was sent to California in January 2017. as CJ Foodville, he says. “I exploited China, Mongolia, Vietnam… I was a general manager of an investment bank, making acquisitions. During my trip, I was able to learn several languages and I can speak five languages.
A graduate in English Literature from Seoul National University, Ahn also attended Tokyo University of Foreign Studies as a one-year exchange student on a full scholarship, studying relationships and international affairs. He is currently pursuing an MBA program at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. “I think I need to dive deep into American culture and people,” he said. “The most impressive thing is that most people ‘in the United States’ praise diversity and are very adventurous in all aspects of life, not just business.”
Tous les Jours opened in 1997 in South Korea, with its first store in the United States in 2004. Same-store sales in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 24.2% compared to the same period last year last, while total system sales jumped 42.4%. First quarter average daily unit volumes were up more than 25% year-over-year, the company said. The brand plans to open its 100th location in 2022 and will open a new company flagship store next year.
“We currently operate 80 stores in 20 different states and signed 15 new franchise agreements in the first half of this year,” Ahn said. The largest markets are California, Texas and New York, but less populated markets are doing well too. “Three months ago we opened the one in Omaha, run by Chinese Americans with extensive experience in the restaurant and food businesses, and they are doing very well. They more than double our expectations. Recently, most potential franchisees who contact us are Asian Americans.
The franchise makes the dough, freezes it and sends it to bakeries. “Early in the morning at 4 a.m., they thaw the product and cook it,” he says. “Our philosophy is to cook every day.” Each store has 20 to 25 employees. “I think we can reach 1,000 stores, hopefully by 2030. We have 1,300 in South Korea and the population is only a tenth of that of the United States. I think we have a great opportunity. »
Panera leads the category
An eclectic mix of foreign and U.S.-born brands, the bakery/coffee-grocery category recorded $8.48 billion in system sales last year from eight franchises, up 13.2% from year over year, according to the Franchise Times Top 500. Unit count was 5,750, up just 3%, signifying better average unit volumes for the category as a whole.
Panera Bread led the pack in system sales, with $5.5 billion, up 10% from 2,118 units. Paris Baguette is a close second, with $5.4 billion, but with nearly double the number of units, 4,101, or half the sales per unit. The brands rank 24th and 25th respectively in the Top 500.
La Madeleine, established in Texas in 1983 but now with an international pedigree under French parent company Groupe LeDuff, posted sales of $166 million last year, up 41.7% from the previous year. . Gong Cha, launched in 2006 in Taiwan, recorded a turnover of 380 million dollars, a decrease of 4.9% compared to the previous year. Einstein Bros. Bagels, with sales up 19.5% to $490 million, was launched in Miami in 1996; now it is owned by JAB Holding Co. from the Netherlands.
All-American brands on the list, meanwhile, saw strong sales growth. Founded in Beaumont, Texas in 1976, Jason’s Deli grew 34% to $536 million. McAlister’s Deli, founded in Oxford, Mississippi, reached $870 million, up 29.1%. Also from Oxford and founded by the same father and son couple, Don and Chris Newcomb, Newk’s Eatery, up 10.7%, hit $208 million. And Schlotzsky’s Bakery Café, founded in Austin, Texas, and named after a random pattern in a children’s building block set, hit $332 million, up 9.2%.
Three stores and counting
Jae Hwan Kim and Daniel Lee are friends, business partners and Tous les Jours franchisees in Oregon. “We were looking at the market in the area and saw that there was a niche that we could fill with the Tous Les Jours franchise,” Kim said. “In January 2019, we opened our first store. We just opened our third in May last year. Hopefully we are still looking for a location for our fourth next year.
Kim runs two motels and resorts on the Oregon coast; Lee has experience running a bar. “People here love the brand, not necessarily the brand, the products,” Kim said. “There are also a lot of independent bakeries. They are mostly clustered around certain sections of the city. We try to target everyday places. Our first is next to Trader Joe’s. Were quite analytical with our products. We try to give it a while, see how it sells.
It cost $800,000 to open their last bakery and they are raising capital through friends and family and through loans. The biggest challenge at the start is construction, he said. “Once it’s up and running, it’s usually supply chain, raw materials, commodities.” A final challenge concerns customers who do not speak French. “Pronouncing it is always difficult. We shorten it to TLJ to make it easier.
Meanwhile, Ahn and his team work to merge many cultures from the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles. He says his favorite author is WB Yeats, the Irish-born poet who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. “I was a big fan of the poems but I can’t anymore,” he says, meaning to recite them of memory.
As for his favorite thing about America: “In the United States there are so many adventurous things to do like camping, fishing, hiking, biking,” he said, adding that every day at 5 a.m., he climbs the mountain behind his house near the Hollywood Hills before heading to the office. At 8 o’clock in the morning, he is back on his mission: to make Tous les Jours an American-style daily.