Chantal Janssen with Nadine and Norman Markgraaff at their Mission Bay KiwiYo store. Photo / Richard Robinson
Just 15 months after its launch in New Zealand, frozen yoghurt retailer KiwiYo is gearing up for major push into China.

Founder Norman Markgraaff says the firm is also eyeing an NZX listing within the next three to four years.

Auckland-based KiwiYo has signed three franchise deals in China, including one that will see 20 stores established in the mega city of Chongqing – with a population of around 30 million – to be followed by expansion into the nearby provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Hubei and Guizhou.

Another franchisee will open three stores in the central Chinese city of Xian, with the intention of establishing a further eight outlets over the next year or two.

And a third franchisee plans 20 stores in Hainan province over the next 24 months.

"China has just gone wild," said Markgraaff. "I’m getting [franchise] requests from all over China."

He said KiwiYo’s New Zealand roots meant the brand was expected to be a big hit with consumers in China and India, where the company was also negotiating franchise agreements. 

"The New Zealand Inc thing plays a major role in both China and India," said Markgraaff, a South African immigrant who runs the business his wife, Nadine, and other family members, including daughters Chantal Janssen and Natalie van Niekerk.

Sharemarket listing would provide the capital required to turn KiwiYo into an international brand.

The company, which employs about 90 staff in New Zealand, has established three Auckland stores in Mission Bay, Takapuna and the Botany town centre.

A fourth store will open soon in Sylvia Park.

Markgraaff said the company intended to have 26 stores operating in New Zealand – including sites in Queenstown, Hamilton and Tauranga – by the end of next year. 

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