Five fast-food giants that crashed and burned in Thailand


Five fast-food giants that crashed and burned in Thailand

Five popular international food brands, Gardenia, Carl’s Jr, Roti Boy, A&W and Baskin Robbins, suddenly disappeared from Thailand after suffering heavy losses during economic downturns and the Covid-19 crisis.

Gardenia, known for its fragrant and buttery bakery treats, entered the Thai market in 1987. Gardenia is famous for its diverse range of flavours, including buttered scones and bread varieties like milk oat, whole wheat, banana-infused whole wheat, pumpkin, chocolate, raspberry, coconut pandan, and more. Its unique and delicious flavours quickly gained popularity in Thailand. Originating in Singapore in 1978, Gardenia bread was designed to have a softer texture compared with rivals in the market. It achieved rapid expansion within just two years of entering Thailand, and its success led to the establishment of factories in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. However, Gardenia ran into credit problems in 2007 during the global financial crisis, leading to its closure in Thailand. Despite the absence of stores, fans of Gardenia bread can still purchase it online through overseas sellers, particularly from Malaysia.

Known for its charbroiled burgers and fast food offerings, American brand Carl’s Jr entered the Thai market in 2012. Its first branch opened in the tourist city of Pattaya, followed by six more branches in Bangkok. However, Carl’s Jr faced challenges in Thailand’s competitive fast-food market, particularly from established giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Mos Burger. Carl’s Jr Thailand suffered difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic and eventually closed down in 2022, 11 years after entering the market. The closure was attributed to the economic impact of the pandemic and challenges in its location choices, as many of its branches were situated in shopping malls and office buildings that were shuttered during lockdowns.

Roti Boy, a Malaysian brand known for its aromatic milk-infused fried breads, entered Thailand in 2005 with its first branch in Siam Square. It expanded rapidly, with several more branches opening shortly after. Roti Boy’s unique flat bread with a coffee-infused topping became a hit among Thai consumers. However, the brand’s popularity declined over time, and it closed down in Thailand in 2007, just two years after its entry.

Well-known American fast-food chain, A&W, famous for its root beer beverage and quick-service foods, announced its closure in Thailand in 2022. A&W faced financial losses and challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, which led to the decision to cease operations in Thailand after 39 years in business. The closure marked the end of the American fast-food brand’s presence in the country.

American legend Baskin Robbins, renowned for its wide range of ice cream flavours, also faced challenges in Thailand. Despite its popularity, the company experienced continuous financial losses, leading to the closure of most of its branches in the country by 2022. Baskin Robbins Thailand closed down completely in 2023, after years of financial struggles.

These five popular foreign food brands achieved business success in Thailand that lasted from several years to decades. But eventually, each one had to quit the country under heavy losses caused by economic downturns that weakened consumers’ purchasing power, as well as changes in consumer preferences.