South Korean coffee franchise Caffe Bene said Monday it will invest 40 billion won (US$35.7 million) to enter the Chinese market, the world's No. 2 economy.
Caffe Bene said it has prepared to open three stores in Beijing by the end of the year, while holding talks with a local firm in Chongqing to open its first store in the southwestern city next year.
The coffeehouse will mainly target young female consumers in China, creating a relaxing atmosphere where they can have a cup of coffee at a relatively cheaper price compared to global coffee franchises.
Company officials also expected that endorsements by South Korean celebrities such as Han Ye-seul and Song Seung-heon will help boost its brand awareness in China.
The coffeehouse chain, which opened its first store in South Korea in April 2008, now has more than 700 locations nationwide, enhanced by its aggressive marketing campaign.
Its domestic sales in 2010 reached 102.3 billion won, trailing Starbucks Coffee, which led the South Korean market with 242.1 billion won in sales.
According to global research firm Euromonitor International, China's coffee sales are estimated to have reached $725.3 million in 2009.
Coffee giant Starbucks Coffee currently operates some 400 stores in mainland China.