By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Milkin’ Corporation, the company behind home-grown Italian gelato and café brands Fiorgelato and Fior Café, is set to expand outside the Philippines, a plan that will set forth as the firm celebrates its 25th year anniversary.
Richie Cuna, president and chief executive officer of Milkin’ Corp., said the company is already at its 25th year of expansion and is at the end of its 25-year program.
“Part of the 25-year program is to establish the company, have a franchising program, and start going global. 2017 is the globalization year of Fiorgelato,” Cuna said.
To cap off the 25-year plan, Cuna noted the firm’s gelato ice cream brand Fiorgelato International under Milkin’ International Ltd. will be launched overseas through franchising in the ASEAN region.
Cuna said the company has talked to “potential franchisees” all over the region, to jump start its expansion plan.
This will be the first time the international brand will be established outside the Philippines, as the company is capitalizing on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration.
Cuna explained the target is to expand in markets “almost the same as the Philippines,” therefore in ASEAN, given Fiorgelato’s strong customer base in the country especially in the A, B and C market and also due to the growing middle class segment.
“If the foreign companies are capturing us by entering the Philippine market, then we should do the same and capture them as well,” Cuna said.
“We’ll stick to our [high end to middle market] niche as we enter the ASEAN market. As we go on, we’ll see if localization or any developments in the brand will be made in accordance to the markets across the region,” he added.
With the expansion plan, Milkin’ is looking to close its 25 years in 2017 with a modest presence in the ASEAN.
In the Philippine arena, Milkin’ has intensified its brands by opening or franchising 24 branches every year for both Fiorgelato and Fior Café nationwide.
Asked why the company is keen on franchising, the Milkin’ chief said it is a faster way of growing a business, citing that the method is effective in the Philippines.
“Through franchising, you can expand faster. At the same time, you’ll be able to give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to grow their businesses. Franchising is another way of getting to a business. It’s a proven system, brand recall and there is an element of success in the industry,” he explained.
After the 25-year plan, Cuna said Fiorgelato International is determined to enter the greater Asian market, especially in Japan, Middle East and even in the United States.
Established 22 years ago, Milkin’ Philippines now has almost a hundred Fiorgelato outlets nationwide, both franchised and company-owned.
Aside from Milkin’ Corporation, Cuna owns more consumer-related and franchise-oriented companies – including the Triomix Foods Corporation – with brands Donburi Mix, Chicana, Mr. Halo-halo, Asian Mix (Gourmet Food), Bred Snack and Maynila Ice Cream, which are mostly involved in the manufacturing, processing and distribution of food products and low end to specialty ice cream and gelato brands.