Vietnam’s fast-food franchise market is growing robust with the entrance of an array of foreign players, the Vietnam Investment Review (VIR) reported.

McDonald’s has just opened its first restaurant in Vietnam which is capable of accommodating 350 people in-house as well as its to-go services.

In the first month of operation, the restaurant served more than 400,000 customers and sold 61,980 Big Macs, the company’s flagship burger.

According to Nguyen Bao Hoang, founder of food and travel services firm Good Day Hospitality – the Vietnamese franchise holder of McDonald’s in Vietnam, the customer numbers have surpassed expectations and they plan to open second restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City in very near future.

Hoang has ambitious plans to spread the chain across Vietnam in a similar fashion to Singapore which has 100 McDonald’s restaurants, and the Philippines with 400.

Coffee giant Starbucks has also advanced into Vietnam under an agreement with Coffee Concepts Vietnam, a branch of Hong Kong’s Maxim Group.

The first outlet was launched in early February 2013.

Since, it has expanded to four stores and has scaled up efforts for their upcoming launch in Hanoi, likely in the second quarter.

In late October 2013, BBQ Vietnam’s BBQ Chicken restaurant chain, part of Korea’s Genesis BBQ, reopened its property on Trang Tien street under a new name BBQ Premium Café.

BBQ Vietnam was one of the first fast food chains to enter the country, since 2006 it has opened 16 restaurants in Hanoi (11 under franchise agreements).

BBQ reportedly has an aggressive expansion plan that aims to unseat rival McDonalds in terms of number of restaurants by 2020. The plan foresees this requiring a total 50,000 outlets.

According to BBQ Vietnam director Sim Hwang Jin, the company is working on a plan to expand its outlet system in satellite cities in the north and south as its restaurants are actually more successful in small cities rather than the major ones.

Positioning in smaller localities would also help BBQ solve the outlet space problem that often plagues franchises in big cities.

“Global brands are competing for the top spots in big cities. Not every franchise can afford this strategy,” Sim told the VIR.

KFC is one of leading players in Vietnam at this point with 17 years in the market and more than 180 outlets in 18 provinces and municipalities.

But KFC might be facing mounting pressure from the wave of new brands in recent years, that also include Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Popeye’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, brought to Vietnam by Imex Pan Pacific Group (IPP Group) owner Jonathan Hanh Nguyen.

Last year these chains contributed 8.04 percent to IPP’s total revenue.

The Republic of Korea’s Lotteria dropped anchor in Vietnam only a year after KFC, the brand now features over 187 Vietnam outlets.

“After a long presence in Vietnam, we finally won consumer confidence, which is a solid foundation for us to overcome this difficult time,” CEO Cho Young Jin was quoted as saying.-VNA