By Keith Richard D. Mariano
JOLLIBEE FOODS CORP. (JFC), the biggest fast food chain in Asia, remains focused on expanding abroad to reach another milestone: Become one of the world’s five largest.
The company is buzzing past four giants — at the least — to join the top five publicly listed restaurant businesses in the world, Group President Jose Maria A. Miñana, Jr. told the BusinessWorld-PAL ASEAN Regional Forum in Pasay City last month.
Currently, JFC occupies the ninth spot in the global ranking based on market capitalization, a position that Mr. Miñana deemed “in step with our vision to be one of the Top 5 Restaurant Companies in the World.”
In over four decades, the company has grown an ice cream parlor into a burger chain, a full quick-service restaurant, and a global brand currently with a store network of 4,000 branches inside and outside the Philippines.
“Our story dates back to 1975 as an ice cream parlor that evolved into a burger chain. We were incorporated in 1978 and went public in 1993,” Mr. Miñana recalled during the forum.
“That paved the way for us not only to expand Jollibee the brand, but to expand our portfolio of brands in the Philippines, China, Vietnam and the United States, among other markets,” the executive in charge of operations in North America noted.
The executive cited a piece of advice from Washington Sycip — the founder of auditing and accounting firm SGV. & Co. — that later kept the company on track to become a global brand: “Do not expand internationally at the expense of home.”
“So, we focused our efforts at home,” Mr. Miñana said. “Our six brands together in the Philippines with a total to over 2,500 stores is equivalent to around 60% of the market across 14 of the major quick-service restaurant brands.”
JFC operates 239 stores under Greenwich, a pizza and pasta chain; 462 under Chowking, a Chinese restaurant; 381 under Red Ribbon, a cake and pastry business; around 451 under Mang Inasal, a grilled chicken concept; and 64 under majority-owned Burger King.
The company would eventually expand abroad, particularly in countries hosting a large population of overseas Filipino workers.
As of September this year, JFC operated 674 stores overseas.
Of this number, 321 are Yonghe King stores, 41 are Hong Zhuang Yuan outlets, 68 San Pin Wang outlets, 8 Dunkin Donuts establishments, 156 Jollibee, 33 Red Ribbon, 44 Chowking, and 3 Jinja Bar stores.
In addition, the company maintains a 50% interest in joint ventures for Highlands Coffee (with 147 stores), Pho 24 (with 33 outlets), 12 Hotpot (16) and other eight brands along with a 40% interest in Smashburger, which has 376 branches in the US.
“A couple of weeks ago, we opened our newest store in Vietnam in the Dong Da district of Hanoi. This is our 81st store in Vietnam,” Mr. Miñana noted during the forum, adding that JFC also opened its third store in Hong Kong two weeks ago.
“The new store is located at Mongkok Commercial Center beside the MTR Exit Station, and is in the middle of Mongkok, considered by Guiness Book of Records as the busiest district in the world with a population density of 130,000 per square kilometer.”
JFC is bringing its flagship brand Jollibee in more locations in Canada and the United States next year, Mr. Miñana told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.
In Canada, the company is looking to enter the province of Ontario after opening a store in Winnipeg within the month. In the US, it intends to open a store in Florida and Manhattan as well as a second outlet in Chicago.
The fastfood giant also intends to introduce the homegrown brand to the European market. It intends to start with Italy, where many Filipinos work and live.
Mr. Miñana noted that building a global brand requires “superior products” tailor-fit to each overseas market but, in competing abroad, “there’s not much difference with how we do it here at home in the Philippines.”
Local companies seeking a global footprint, Mr. Miñana said, needs to “understand market using scientific market research with common sense; build a unique and differentiated product that will stand out; and replicate that superior product by systems from farm to fork in our case.”
“Sustain with purpose by building a palpable inspiring culture with a strong team; and where applicable, develop partners guided by my 3Cs of Leadership‚ ‘look for competence, character, chemistry.’”