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5 Franchise Brands Growing in China

China’s explosive growth has made it home to some of the world’s fastest-growing franchise brands. From in-home senior care services to fried chicken giants, here are five brands seeing success in China.

By Sarah Brown1851 Franchise Copy Editor
Updated 10:10AM 08/30/21

China is a complex and diverse market where consumers are particularly brand-conscious. And while its market presents huge commercial opportunities for franchise brands, entry into China poses its own unique set of localization challenges.

There’s no doubt that the companies that entered the Chinese market planned their expansion carefully. Here are some of the top franchise brands growing in China today.

Sylvan Learning*

  • Total Units: 750+
  • Units in China: 3

750-plus unit supplemental education brand Sylvan Learning has become the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12, and its mission is to inspire students to succeed both in school and in life. The brand began in Portland, Oregon in 1979 at the Sylvan Hill Medical Center Building and was founded by former school teacher W. Berry Fowler.

Now, with more than 40 years of experience providing education programs, Sylvan has expanded to several countries, including Guam, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and China. In 2018, the brand announced a partnership with Sylvan China, an organization headed by Mr. Bo Jiang, to expand across China with the development of 200 locations over the next 10 years.

“There is a demand for Sylvan Learning to open locations across China and to provide our premium programs and personalized education to children across the country,” said John McAuliffe, Sylvan Learning’s CEO. “With our recent openings in Vietnam and the Middle East, China is a terrific next step in our international development initiative.”


  • Total Units: 3,300
  • Current Units in China: 9

Founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Popeyes brand has expanded to 3,300 restaurants in the United States and around the world over the last 49 years. Rooted in Cajun recipes, the brand joined the Chicken Sandwich Wars with its 2019 launch of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich.

TFI TAB Food Investments, the franchisee for Popeyes in China, currently owns nine Popeyes restaurants in China. On May 15th, 2020, TFI TAB Food Investments opened its first flagship Popeyes restaurant in Shanghai, China with an elevated store design, but still rooted in the brand’s Louisiana heritage, leveraging warm woods and neons inspired by New Orleans’ Bourbon Street.

Courtesy of The Modern Popeyes® Renaissance Release

“China represents a big opportunity for our brand, and it is a market where Popeyes has a very limited presence,” said Leandro Gasparin, vice president of franchise operations for the brand. “We're very excited to grow the Popeyes brand in the Chinese market in the years ahead.”

Right at Home*

  • Total Units: 600+

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to live independently. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with more than 600 franchise locations in the U.S. and seven other countries.

In 2011, Right at Home entered the Chinese market through a master franchise license agreement with an entrepreneurial group in Beijing. The first Right at Home office opened June 9 in Beijing.

“This agreement and what it represents is incredibly exciting,” acknowledged Allen Hager, Right at Home’s founder, in a press release. “The Chinese have very strong filial piety, or respect, for their parents, so there is a cultural predisposition toward caring for the elderly. People in China are also living longer and prefer to stay in their homes rather than move into an institutional environment, so there’s an increasing demand for professional in-home elderly care assistance.”

Paris Baguette*

  • Total Units: 4,000+
  • Units in China: 300+

With more than 4,000 stores worldwide, Paris Baguette is an internationally beloved bakery cafe offering demonstrations of its skilled bakers, cakers and baristas illustrating their expertise live. The brand, a subsidiary of the SPC Group, was born from a love of bread and a passion for quality in 1988 and specializes in French-inspired goods.

As the largest bakery chain in South Korea, Paris Baguette has also thrived in other East Asian countries like China. It has been expanding its presence in mainland China since 2004 and recently completed a bread factory in China to meet growing demand in the world's second-largest market.

"China's bakery market has big potential as its annual size reaches an estimated 4.4 trillion won (the national currency ofSouth Korea) [approximately 3.9 million USD]," said Hur Young-in, a SPC Group chairman, in The Korea Herald.


  • Total Units: 25,000+
  • Units in China: 6,000+

Kentucky Fried Chicken was the brainchild of a man named Harland Sanders, who cooked up simple country dishes at a roadside gas station. Now, he’s the instantly recognizable face of the fried chicken franchise giant.

KFC was the first American fast food chain to launch in China and now holds the title of the most popular fast food chain in the country. 

The brand believes its success in China was partly due to its catering to Chinese tastes, serving a variety of local dishes like egg tarts and congee (rice porridge) along with its signature fried chicken.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.