PETALING JAYA: Oldtown Bhd will have its first outlet in Australia, in either Melbourne or Sydney by the first half of 2015. Its master licensee, OTK (Australia) Sdn Bhd (OTK) managing director Soon Mun Kheen, has committed to opening 44 outlets there, with an eye to open more if possible. OTK has an agreement for five years with Oldtown, with an option for another five years. Oldtown executive director and food and beverage division COO Clarence Leon D'Silva said, "This is our first foray outside of Asia and the primary reason for the selection of Australia is due to the overwhelming demand and acceptance of Asian cuisine, particularly Malaysian, in the country. The market is also in line with our sustained international growth and expansion, as the Oldtown brand continues to become more internationalised and global." According to IbisWorld, the Australian restaurant industry which has been affected by volatile conditions over the last five years, still managed a 5.6% annualised growth in revenue. The industry performed robustly during the 2013-14 period, growing by 3.1% and contributing A$11.4 billion (RM34.3 billion) to the Australian economy. Busier lifestyles, longer hours at work and an increasing squeeze on leisure time have led more and more consumers turning to restaurants as a solution. Oldtown has, in recent years, focused on international expansion, with its first overseas outlet opening in Singapore in 2008. Since then, Oldtown has expanded to Indonesia as well as China and boasts 239 outlets in Asia, with over 200 outlets in Malaysia alone. According to a statement released yesterday Oldtown said Soon is one of the leading retail consultants in Australia who has shared his expertise with a number of major retail shopping centre organisations and retail hospitality groups throughout Australia and Asia. Soon himself is a native of Ipoh, the home of Oldtown. "Originating from Ipoh, the home of Oldtown White Coffee, I've always wanted to own a chain of time-honoured Malaysian restaurants. The timing is correct and the Asian food market has exploded with Australia being the preferred destination for Asian students pursuing tertiary education; it is time to provide a high standard of Malaysian cuisine to the Australian consumers. Coupled with Oldtown's unique white coffee, we are positive about introducing the product range to the Australian market."