By James A. Loyola
Jollibee Foods Corporation is continuing to put up more branches of its home-grown fastfood chain overseas and will soon be opening its first branch in Japan to serve the growing number of Filipino health workers there.
In an interview after the firm’s annual stockholders meeting, Jollibee Chairman Tony Tancaktiong said they have just opened a branch in Florida and will be opening branches in Toronto, Manhattan, and Guam later this year or early next year.
Tancaktiong said Manhattan branch the second in New York after the branch in Queens while they will also be returning to Guam after closing their store there before.
The firm is also planning for the opening of its first branch in Japan targeted for 2019. Tancaktiong said they are still studying if their first store there will be company-owned or if they will get a local joint venture partner.
“We are excited about opening in Japan. There is a lot of interest in Japan because the government has allowed the entry of more Filipino caregivers so there is a new market for us,” he explained.
Jollibee Chief Finance Officer Ysmael Baysa said the firm is allotting P14.7 billion for capital expenditures this year—about double what they actually spent in 2016.
The capex will be for the opening of new stores, renovation of existing branches and boosting the capacity of its commissaries.
He said they are spending about P5 billion for the expansion of commissaries while the balance will be for store openings and renovations. Jollibee is opening about 250 new stores this year, slightly higher than 242 branches in 2016.
Meanwhile, Tancaktiong said they are also very bullish about their prospects in Vietnam through 40 percent-owned joint venture SuperFoods Group which owns the Pho24 and Highlands Coffee chains.
Baysa said they now have 89 stores in Vietnam and aim to rapidly expand, particularly in the provinces, with the aim of having 300 stores in five years.
Tancaktiong said the expansion will be funded by the planned initial public offering of SuperFoods in July 2019.
He noted that Vietnam has a population that is just slightly lower than that of the Philippines. “If we can have over 1,000 stores here, we can also try to do that in Vietnam,” Tancaktiong said.