The nation’s conglomerates are set to be prohibited from starting new restaurant businesses or merging with existing ones under a state-funded panel’s plan to add eateries to the list of trades suitable for only small- and medium-sized firms.
Franchises such as Nolbu and Saemaeul Restaurant, which have up to 700 stores nationwide, will be banned from opening too close to each other as they are believed to be threatening mom-and-pop eateries.
About 30 chaebol subsidiaries including Lotteria, CJ Foodville, Shinsegae Food, Nongshim, Our Home and Maeil Dairies, as well as others that do not meet the legal conditions of SMEs, such as Nolbu, Saemaeul Restaurants, Won and Won Co., will be subject to the restrictions.
“A consensus has been reached on forbidding large firms from launching new restaurant brands,” said an official on the National Commission for Corporate Partnership.
The commission has designated SME-only trades in a bid to give them more opportunity by keeping big companies in check.
The panel, however, plans to allow them to open new stores in areas that are too expensive for small eateries to do business in.
Companies complain about the measure, saying that restaurants, which go through frequent ups and downs, have to keep starting new brands in order to stay afloat. They also say that restricting even medium-sized franchises is too much.
Prohibiting mergers and acquisitions by domestic firms would only result in foreign takeovers of homegrown dining businesses, they say. Nolbu was sold to Morgan Stanley last year.
The panel also agreed to ban bakery franchises from opening within 500 meters from other bakeries and limit the number of new stores they can open per year to 2 percent of their existing stores.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com