Tai Tong Food & Beverage Group (瓦城泰統集團), which operates six restaurant chains, including Thai Town Cuisine (瓦城泰式料理), plans to open 18 new stores in Taiwan by the end of this year, a public relations officer said yesterday.

“We plan to hasten our store expansion to cope with the openings of new department stores and shopping malls” later this year, the officer said by telephone, adding that the stores would start contributing to earnings early next year.

As 80 percent of Tai Tong’s restaurants are in departments stores, which usually hold anniversary sales in September or October, the group plans to launch promotions over the period to boost sales.

As of last month, Tai Tong had 121 stores in Taiwan and 11 in China, while the total number is expected to rise to 151 by the end of this year, it said.

The group plans to finance the expansion through the sale of NT$800 million (US$25.47 million) in three-year unsecured convertible bonds, it said.

The group’s first-half net income rose 4.89 percent year-on-year to NT$198.8 million, translating into earnings per share (EPS) of NT$8.54, thanks to store expansion and cost control.

First-half revenue rose 16.14 percent to NT$2.47 billion, while gross margin edged down 0.34 percentage points to 53.74 percent and operating margin decreased by 0.53 percentage points to 10.42 percent, it said.

Separately, Gourmet Master Co (美食達人), operator of cafe and bakery chain 85oC (85度C), said that first-half net income plunged 47.72 percent annually to NT$532.43 million, with EPS nearly halving to NT$2.96, due to decreasing contributions from its China operations.

Revenue fell 6.21 percent to NT$11.52 billion and operating margin dropped 4.29 percentage points to 7.16 percent, but gross margin increased 0.93 percentage points to 60.01 percent, company data showed.