SOUTH KOREA - SPC Group better watch out as its leading bakery brands Paris Baguette and Paris Croissant are about to face some stiff competition from a new kid on the block by the name of Brioche Doree.
Brioche Doree, which literally means golden brioches, is a major French chain of bakery and caf restaurants.
It's now preparing to launch officially in Korea ― before the year is out ― meaning Koreans will soon get to taste real French croissants and pastry.
"Brioche Doree will become major competition for the SPC brands, particularly the upscale Paris Croissant, which compete in the same bracket as Brioche Doree," said one industry watcher who wished to remain anonymous.
The sheer breadth of Brioche Doree is enough to be intimidating, as the chain has worldwide operations and is the second largest bakery-caf chain in the world. It's run by the Le Duff Group of France.
Restaurants run by Le Duff cater to up to 510,000 customers on a daily basis.
Paris Baguette and Paris Croissant are the top two players in Korea.
Paris Baguette currently is No.1 in the local market with a market share of almost 80 per cent.
The brand is followed by CJ's Tous Les Jours and Crown Bakery of the Crown Group, which also operates the Haitai brands.
Tous Les Jours takes one-fifth of the market, while Crown has less than 3 per cent.
All this may change, industry watchers say, with the entrance of Brioche Doree, which is determined to change the dynamics.
The launch may also be a chance for SPC Group to rethink its plans for entering the French market in the near future.
"Over the next three to five years, SPC has plans to enter France," one SPC official told The Korea Herald.
Some in the French community here, however, appeared to be less than confident in the move, saying that while the taste of Paris Baguette is not too bad, the brand does not have any French nuance or resonance in the way it operates or reaches out to the consumers.
"The ambience of the Paris Baguette or Paris Croissant stores is no way near similar to the bakeries in France," said one French expatriate.