The Korean company behind a fast-growing bakery chain with a French name is spending $47 million to build a Georgia baked goods factory supporting its U.S. franchise push.
CJ Foodville is putting the new facility in Gainesville and plans to hire 285 people in Hall County, according to a release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office.
The company also announced the move, though its investment total of 50 billion Korean won only comes out to $37 million at Tuesday’s exchange rates. (More on the apparent discrepancy when we get a response from the state).
CJ Foodville is part of the CJ Group, a large Seoul-based conglomerate that is primarily engaged in food service but also has a strong foothold in industries like film, logistics and pharmaceuticals. As a whole, CJ Group has $30 billion-plus in annual revenues and is publicly traded with a market capitalization of nearly $1.8 billion.
CJ Foodville’s TOUS les JOURS (translating to “Every Day” in French) bakery cafes entered the U.S. in 2004. The brand now has four stores in Georgia, 100 across 26 U.S. states (as of Aug. 30) and 1,650 in all, mostly in Korea.
The company has opened around 280 stores across five Asian markets, with a particular focus on Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam and Indonesia. Becoming a “global bakery brand” is key to its ambitions.
TOUS les JOURS has announced aggressive plans for U.S., calling for 120 locations by the end of 2023 and 1,000 by the end of the decade. About 90 percent of its current stores in the U.S. are franchised, and half of them are run by multi-store operators.
Globally, the company’s system-wide sales jumped 42.4 percent in 2022 beyond the $697 million posted the prior year, according to an article in Franchise Times. Since 2018, the first year the overseas stores were in the black, operating profits have more than tripled, the company says. In the U.S., franchisees have seen 20 percent year-over-year sales growth.
“Based on our strong profitability, we have decided to establish a factory in the U.S. to enhance our production and supply capabilities in response to the expanding scale of the TOUS les JOURS business,” said Tony Hunsoo Ahn, CEO of CJ Foodville USA, in the news release.
Mr. Ahn went on to say that he envisions TOUS les JOURS becoming “a globally cherished bakery brand that transcends borders and captivates palates worldwide.”
Offering customers a variety of cakes and breads lies at the heart of the “K-Bakery” offering, he added, alluding to the way Korean firms are putting their stamp on the quick-service restaurant category, much like they have with sectors such as K-pop and K-beauty.
The new facility, which the company pegs at nearly a million square feet (90,000 square meters) is to be located at Gainesville Business Park and is expected to be operational by 2025, producing 19,000 tons of food products annually, according to the news release from Mr. Kemp’s office.
That equates to about 100 million units of frozen dough and cakes, according to the company’s own announcement, which will be shipped to stores that will bake them fresh on site.
CJ Foodville joins 330 manufacturers and processors in Gainesville-Hall County northeast of Atlanta, according to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. Many of them are subsidiaries of international companies.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development says that half of the top 100 food companies in the U.S. operate in Georgia, including international investors like Mexican bakery giant Grupo Bimbo.
Such firms benefit from the state’s advanced logistics network, which will be buttressed in Hall County by an inland port that is set to open in 2026, just after the factory goes live.
Cold storage is particularly important for companies like CJ Foodville; the state offers 178 million square feet of such space. Hall County, which is the epicenter of U.S. poultry production, counts this as one of its key advantages.
Georgia leaders said the announcement showcases the diversified Korean investment relationship the state has built in the decades since its office opened there in 1985.
More recently, the state has seen record-breaking investment in the electric-vehicle sector led by Korean brands.