AS PART of efforts to expand its reach locally, homegrown restaurant chain the Soup Restaurant Group will be establishing five new outlets in Singapore by October, it announced on Wednesday.

The planned expansion - which includes an outlet in Changi Airport and two at Holland Village - will boost the number of restaurants in Singapore for the firm to 19, up from 14 currently.

It expects to hire some 75 staff to man the new restaurants when they are operational, Soup co-founder and executive director Wong Chi Keong told The Business Times.

Mainboard-listed Soup has 19 restaurant outlets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia at present, and has approximately 400 employees.

Said Mr Wong: "Although the retail climate in Singapore remains challenging with high rents and labour costs, we feel confident that the expansion will position us for the future."

To reduce its reliance on manpower, Soup will be exploring the use of technology to streamline its processes. Some of its new outlets will be equipped with Apple iPads for customers to place their orders electronically, reducing its manpower workload.

Noting that diners in Singapore are "spoilt for choice" when it comes to food options and are "always on the lookout for something new", Soup will be introducing a new concept - dubbed the Teahouse - at its outlet in Changi Airport Terminal 1 when it opens in October, Mr Wong said.

The Teahouse will serve local dim sum dishes such as steamed carrot cake, as well as wanton mee and congee.

Soup will also be reopening its Soup Restaurant outlet in the renovated Compass One shopping mall in October, which was closed for a facelift in the past year.