By CHRIS BRUMMITT
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ McDonald’s said Tuesday it will open its first burger restaurant in Vietnam after awarding the franchise to the son-in-law of the Communist-ruled nation’s prime minister.
The fast-food chain is a relative latecomer to Vietnam where other Western consumer brands such as Starbucks, Subway and Pizza Hut have already opened stores.
Despite a slowdown in growth from torrid levels, Vietnam’s youthful population is a strong lure for foreign companies.
It also represents the latest chapter in the march of McDonald’s across the world, including to countries with which the United States shares a bloody history.
The company said it will open its first restaurant early next year in Ho Chi Minh city, where the US-backed government was based until it fell to Communist forces 38 years ago.
It will join Starbucks, which opened its first cafe in Ho Chi Minh City earlier this year, and other brands. Vietnam’s rulers only began opening the country’s economy to the world in the early 1990s. Foreign brands enjoy prestige among people keen to experiment with food and lifestyle choices unavailable to their parent’s generation.
The company said it had chosen Henry Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American investor and the son-in-law of Vietnam’s prime minister, as the main franchise partner based on a “rigorous” selection process. Nguyen was quoted as saying that a stint at McDonald’s was one of his first jobs as a teenager in the United States.
“I have dreamed of one day opening a McDonald’s restaurant in my native country ever since my return to Vietnam more than a decade ago,” Nguyen said. “I have been in contact with McDonald’s over the years sharing the opportunity that exists in our country.”
McDonald’s operates in more than 100 countries across the world, including 38 in Asia.