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Dairy Queen plans 500 more ice cream stores in China

INTERNATIONAL Dairy Queen Inc said in Shanghai today it plans to open 500 more stores in China over the next five years as consumers are more inclined to counter recession with sweet treats in emerging countries.

With its most popular offering, Blizzard, being held by people in terra cotta warrior costumes, the world's leading ice cream chain used the announcement to also celebrate with its Chinese partner Shanghai Shida Catering Management Co Ltd the opening of its 200th store in Xi'an.

Headquartered in Minneapolis in the United States, IDQ entered China in 1992 but it was not until the 2005 that the company started its rapid expansion.
China is expected to be the company's largest international market outside the United States and Canada by next year, John P. Gainor, president and chief executive officer of IDQ, said today.

Despite the global financial crisis, the company has added about 100 stores in China since the second half of last year, covering the east coast area as well as inner provinces like Hubei, Shaanxi and Sichuan.

"The economy in China has done better than other parts of the world," Gainor said.

"We know people like to treat themselves during tough times and with the high quality and affordability of our products, we believe that is one of the reasons Dairy Queen continues its growth in China."

He mentioned that sales revenue in China rose 17 percent year-on-year for the first half of this year. This compared to about a 4 percent increase for same store sales in mature markets like the United States and Canada.

"We are still very optimistic about the continued expansion of Dairy Queen as more people become exposed to the brand. Under the downward of the global economy, we know it's the time to invest in countries that can drive our future growth," he added.

IDQ is part of the Berkshire Hathaway family, a company run by legendary investor Warren Buffett. It manages over 6,000 outlets in 21 countries and China is one of its fastest growing markets.

Ying Wuwei, general manager of Shanghai Shida, said the fast expansion of Dairy Queen reflected the huge potential market for ice cream in China and future store expansion would tap more second-tier cities like Qingdao, Kunming, Zhengzhou and Chengdu.


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