By James A. Loyola
Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), Asia’s largest food service company, is investing about P668 million to venture into the $45-billion Mexican fast-casual restaurant business in the United States (US) in partnership with award-winning Chef Rick Bayless.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Jollibee said its wholly-owned subsidiary Jollibee Foods Corporation (USA) has entered into a business venture with Bayless’ Tortas Frontera LLC.
JFC will invest US$12.4 million in Tortas Frontera, which owns the Tortas Frontera business founded by Bayless, in consideration for 47 percent of the fully-diluted membership interests therein.
The remaining 53 percent membership interests in Tortas Frontera shall be held by Chef Rick Bayless and other shareholders. The transaction is subject to the fulfillment of agreed closing conditions.
Bayless is the founder of Tortas Frontera restaurants, which feature handcrafted tortas, fresh-made guacamoles, and hand-shaken margaritas. He is known for his award-winning Chicago restaurants, longrunning Public Television series and for winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters with his authentic Mexican cuisine.
“We at Jollibee Foods Corporation are very excited about this new partnership. We have great admiration for Chef Rick Bayless for being a top chef, for being a successful restaurateur and for his philanthropic endeavors,” said JFC Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong.
He added that, “together with his organization and brand Tortas Frontera, we will build a significant business in the large and fast-growing Mexican food category in the United States. This venture is very much in line with JFC’s mission: To serve great tasting food and spread the joy of eating to everyone!”
Mexican food is a rapidly-growing and very popular segment in the United States restaurant industry with estimated sales of US$40 billion to $45 billion in 2017.
Tortas Frontera, with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, currently has 4 restaurants in the United States – three in Chicago O’Hare International Airport and one at The Arc in the University of Pennsylvania.
The Tortas Frontera restaurants use high-quality ingredients with recipes capturing the vibrant flavors of Mexico.
Earlier, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) reported a 16.1 percent growth in attributable net income to P4.05 billion in the first half of 2018 from the P3.49 billion earned in the same period last year.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Jollibee said its net income for the period included foreign exchange gains of P69.1 million.
System wide sales, a measure of all sales to consumers both from company-owned and franchised stores grew by 23.2 percent to P99.91 billion from P81.08 billion while revenues rose 21.4 percent to P75.1 billion from P61.84 billion. Excluding the impact of the consolidation of Smashburger effective April 17, 2018, system wide sales grew by 18.7 percent for the first half of 2018.
System-wide sales grew by 26.8 percent in the second quarter compared to sales in the same period of 2017. Without Smashburger, system-wide sales grew by 18.1 percent for the second quarter of 2018.