Irvine-based Pokéworks announced today it signed a master franchise agreement for 50 units in Canada and the opening of its first location in Taipei, Taiwan.
Reaching these markets is part of the fast casual poke brand’s plan for international expansion, and adds to its three stores in Mexico. Pokéworks currently has 65 locations with 85 planned to open nationwide by year-end.
Officials said the market share of the poke industry is expected to grow over $780 million by 2026. CEO Steve Heeley noted that expanding globally is part of the brand’s plan to be an industry leader.
The franchise group Eat Up Canada Inc. plans to begin development in the Toronto area with a goal to build 50 Pokéworks locations over the next 10 years. The first unit is set to open before the end of this year.
Its partner, Taiwan-based Next Level Dining, will head its Taipei location, which opened last month, and marks the brand’s potential for growth in Asia, according to Pokéworks.
“We have substantial interest from partners for international expansion which is thrilling, but we’re very selective in choosing whom to partner with. Both Eat Up Canada and Next Level Dining are experienced, proven operators with deep knowledge of their markets,” Steve Heeley said.
The Irvine poke chain promoted Heeley from chief marketing officer to CEO last August.