SPC Group Chairman Hur Young-in/Courtesy of SPC Group

Korean group strives to expand 25 times in US in 10 years

On June 30, U.S. President Donald Trump met with South Korean business leaders before heading toward the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for a historic meeting with heads of the two Koreas.

He encouraged investment in the United States during the gathering where chiefs of top conglomerates took part including Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Hyundai Motor Executive Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun.

Some tycoons of mid-tier business groups were also invited to the high-profile event. And one of them was Chairman Hur Young-in of SPC Group, known as South Korea’s franchise king.

SPC Group owns such well-known brands as Paris Baguette, a popular bakery franchise. It also runs Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin’ Donuts and New York burger house Shake Shack in Korea.

Hur pledged to increase the number of Paris Baguette stores in the U.S. to 2,000 by 2030 to create 60,000 more jobs in the world’s largest economy.

Businessman-turned-politician Trump might be happy to hear the plan. But some question the feasibility of the bold scheme presented by the 70-year-old chairman.

SPC, which established its first U.S. Paris Baguette store in Los Angeles in 2005, now operates a mere 78 stores in the country.

Against this backdrop, skeptics wonder how a company, which has failed to open 100 stores in almost 15 years, can build 2,000 stores in a decade.

Overly ambitious, habitually?

And this is not the first time for Chairman Hur to come up with seemingly overly ambitious goals.

In October 2016, Hur told his employees that the world will see 3,000 new Paris Baguette stores by 2030 including 2,000 ones in the U.S. and China.

In August 2017 when Hur met Rep. Ed Royce of the U.S., he also said that SPC strives to expand its Paris Baguette bakery chain to 300 stores and generate 10,000 jobs in the country by 2020.

Back then, the number of U.S. stores was 57 and managed to add 22 new ones during the past two years. To keep his promise, SPC should open more than 12 stores every month by the end of 2020.

In other words, SPC needs to speed up its new business operation in the U.S. by more than 10 times to achieve the 2020 goal. This prompts skepticism over Hur’s repeated “rosy visions.”