Jollibee eyes branches in Toronto, Manhattan and Japan

MANILA, Philippines— The Filipino burger will soon be served in Toronto, Manhattan and even Japan.

Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), the firm behind the country’s leading fast food giant, is aggressively expanding overseas and has identified the next cities it wants to open franchises

“An area we are focusing on aggressively is the opening up of the Jollibee brand outside the Philippines. We opened a store recently in Skokie, Illinois, and the line to get in had a wait time of 7 hours. And we also had a very successful opening in Jacksonville, Florida. It excited a lot of Filipinos there, [where] they bring their non-Filipino friends with them,” JFC chairman Tony Tan Caktiong said at the firm’s 2017 annual stockholders meeting on Friday, June 30.

“The next Jollibee store will be in Toronto, Canada, hopefully by this year or early next year. Then we’re going to open in Manhattan, New York within the same timeframe. We are also planning Jollibee stores in Soho and the island of Guam,” he added.

Jollibee currently has a store in Queens, another borough of New York, but not in Manhattan. It is planning a re-entry into the US American territory of Guam in the Pacific for the second time, having closed a store there previously.

The Jollibee chairman also pointed towards Japan as potentially the next big market for Jollibee.

“We were told that Japan is welcoming Filipinos now, particularly caregivers, as it has about 45 million citizens that need special care. So they’ll need caregivers and nurses to work there. I was told that the government is training Filipino nurses to bring them to Japan,” Tan Caktiong said.

The Japanese government is considering relaxing the requirement for Filipino caregivers in a bid to attract more people to care for its aging population. The Filipino population in Japan numbered 206,103 in 2016, making it the third largest foreign group in the East Asian nation.

“If that happens, Japan can be a big market for the Jollibee brand,” Tan Caktiong said, adding that while a specific Japanese city hasn’t been identified yet, a store there could be established by 2019.

In October last year, JFC also signed an agreement with Japan’s top egg producer the ISE Group to produce a $38.7-million worth poultry farm in the Philippines.

More stores, more sales

JFC currently has 3, 555 stores (3,994 including Smashburger and the Superfoods Group brands) across 12 brand in 17 countries. The firm is aiming to hit 4,000 by this year.

The firm will open its 1000th Jollibee store in the Philippines on Monday, July 3, while it plans to build about 250 stores across all its brands in the country  and 100 stores overseas by the end of the year.

Last year, the JFC opened 244 stores in the country and 58 overseas, marking the biggest expansion in the firm’s history.

The opening of all these new stores contributed to total system-wide sales of P149.1 billion, up 14.1% from 2015, its best performance in 5 years which helped grow its net income by 24.6% to P6.14 billion.

The firm's net income in Q1 this year hit  P1.47 billion, up 2.9% compared to last year on higher revenues. This was driven by growth in revenues of 12.2% to P29.29 billion as systemwide retail sales also grew 12.2% to P38.53 billion for the quarter.

For this year, JFC plans to spend P14.7 billion, P9 billion of which is earmarked for expansion and renovation. — Rappler.com