Surrey businesses reaping early returns from mission to India

Posted by Rumin Mann
February 28th, 2011

Surrey’s first trade delegation to India has been a “mind-boggling” success, according to one participant.

The Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen has attracted the attention of many large Indian conglomerates during the 11-day business mission organized by the City of Surrey, said Wok Box chief executive officer Scott Bender.

“We came thinking it would be good research but we could be taking back two or three MOUs [memorandums of understanding]. It’s mind boggling,” said Bender.

One of the MOUs is with a multi-unit brand franchise in India that has 200 restaurants throughout the country and is offering to spread the Wok Box brand nationwide -an offer that has Bender saying “we’re somewhat hesitant because it’s so big.”

The six-year-old company, which began selling franchises in 2008, saw $47 million in sales last year and will soon be opening its 73rd store in Canada.

The Canadian trade mission includes 24 Surrey businesses along with Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and three city councillors.

Watts said she expects the majority of participants will either have deals or be close to signing business agreements when they leave on Monday.

She said one reason the mission has been so successful is the groundwork started last November to partner businesses in Surrey with Indian companies.

“Without exception the hard work done over the past several months seems to have resulted in a large percentage of our companies forming significant relationships with organizations in India,” she said.

“Our goal was to ensure we were expanding local businesses and creating jobs.”

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