Vietnam is a new strategic market for Malaysian businesses to invest in franchises, announced the Malaysian Franchise Association (MFA).

At a seminar held in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur on October 6, MFA Managing Director Sofia Leong Abdullah praised Vietnam ’s potential, a country with a population of 87.9 million and ranked third in economic growth across the world.

Vietnam ’s purchasing power has also rapidly increased, partly thanks to 20 billion USD in foreign remittance, he said, noting that the country’s franchise market is strongly developing with the average turnover increasing by 50 percent each year and this trend is expected to last till 2012.

The two Malaysian brands that already operate in Vietnam are Setia and Berjaya, he added.

During talks with reporters after the seminar, Abdullah said that the MFA will work with Perbadanan Nasional, a leading agency employed by the government to develop the country’s franchise industry, and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) to promote Vietnam ’s potential market to Malaysian businesses.

The MFA intends to bring seven or eight local franchises to Vietnam by the end of this year, he said, adding that the number will increase in 2011.

According to Abdullah, demand for franchises in Vietnam can be seen in the retail sector with 25 percent, beverages 20 percent, restaurant services 16 percent, fashion 9 percent and education 5 percent.

He underlined that education is the sector where the MFA sees the biggest potential, including English language programmes, that Malaysian brands can tap into.

Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other cities such as Da Nang, Can Tho and Hai Phong will be strategic destinations for Malaysian companies to invest in, he said./.