BANGKOK, Thailand--Minor Food Group's The Pizza Company said plans to expand into Vietnam and China, where it wants five restaurants by the end of 2004.

According to The Nation, Minor Chairman William E Heinecke said the company is seeking slots for its units in shopping centers and other high-traffic venues.

"There are many business people and tourists from Asian countries visiting Thailand and they know our brand," said Heinecke. "In addition, Vietnamese people can see UBC cable television from Thailand, so it's not difficult to build brand awareness. For China, it's a big country, and if we want good business growth, we should be able to compete effectively there."

Currently Pizza Hut is the largest pizza chain in China, though Papa John's recently entered the market. The Pizza Company will open its first unit in Beijing. Initially its units will be company owned, but Heinecke said Minor would like to franchise them in the future.

The Pizza Company has 129 units in Thailand and claims a 70 percent share of the market there.

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