LVMH + CRYSTAL JADE = $$$

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The world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH, has purchased the singapore-based Crystal Jade restaurant chain for around $100 million. The deal will give LCapital Asia, the private equity division of LVMH, a 90 percent stake in the restaurant group.

With over 130 restaurants in over 10 countries in Asia, Crystal Jade’s mix of Chinese fine dining, casual dining, and specialty restaurants will expose LVMH to additional markets, according to the South China Morning Post.

LCapital managing director Christina Teo said of the deal, ”[Crystal Jade] has a variety of bakery, noodles, xiao long bao, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Teochew, and at different price points. From the audience’s perspective, there’s lifetime value. The customer could be a kid from school eating a piece of bread, who then goes to casual dining, to a working adult trying the fine dining.” She continued, ”If you look at the beverage side, given our wine and spirits, we can enhance the wine portfolio. In terms of food, it has a very good offering. I don’t envisage having HK$50 xiao long bao. Adaptation will come in narrowing the menu in certain markets.”

The opportunity for increased beverage tie-ins through the restaurant chain should help the company’s wine and spirit sales, which were down 3 percent due largely to luxury crackdowns in the Chinese market.

LVMH will look to expand Crystal Jade into additional markets in China, southeast Asia, and the Middle East through joint ventures and franchises, and sees opportunities for additional penetration in existing markets. The company had planned to open a restaurant in San Francisco during the first quarter of 2014 as part of a joint venture, but the opening has been pushed back to August.

Despite restaurant revenue in China rising only 9 percent in 2013 after 23 years of double-digit growth, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, Crystal Jade is well-positioned for success in the restaurant market. Last year, the restaurant brought in $250 million in revenue.

LCapital Asia expects to dedicate 45-50 percent of its US$1 billion funds to China investments.

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