The Cheesecake Factory Inc. said Monday it plans to move into Asia for the first time.

The Calabasas Hills, Calif.-based casual-dining operator signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Hong Kong-based Maxim’s Caterers Ltd. to develop at least 14 restaurants over the next 10 years in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and China, beginning in 2015.

The agreement also includes the opportunity to expand to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand over time.

“The agreement with Maxim’s provides an incredible opportunity for us to develop in Asia with an established, multi-unit restaurant operator that has nearly 60 years of operating experience in the region,” David Overton, The Cheesecake Factory Inc.’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

In addition to Asian and European restaurant brands, Maxim’s Caterers is a licensee of Starbucks. The group operates more than 840 outlets of all its brands in Hong Kong and China and four in Vietnam.

Though founded in 1978, The Cheesecake Factory came relatively late to the international growth game, opening its first overseas location in Dubai in 2012.

Since then, company officials have increasingly touted the chain’s growth opportunities outside the U.S.

“International expansion will become an increasingly meaningful driver to achieving our goal of delivering mid-teens earnings per share growth over time as the number of restaurants operated by our licensees gradually increase,” Overton said.

The company’s four international units are all in the Middle East. They are among 22 licensed units scheduled to open with Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co. in five countries: the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and company officials say they are performing well beyond expectations.

The Cheesecake Factory also has a licensing agreement for the development of 12 restaurants throughout Mexico and Chile, with the potential to move into Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and Peru. The first restaurant in that region is scheduled to open later this year.

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. operates 181 restaurants in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including 169 under The Cheesecake Factory brand, 11 Grand Lux Café units and one RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen location.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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