SSI Group eyes bigger food business

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

With its recent investment in the world famous fine casual food chain Shake Shack, listed specialty retailer SSI Group is now looking to grow the share of food in its overall brand portfolio that is currently dominated by fashion brands.

SSI Group President Anton Huang said there is no deliberate effort to shift the firm's focus on food, but when asked about the company's expansion plans at least for the year, it is mainly about it.

"We're just really contemplating on the expansion of Shake Shack and Salad Stop!," Huang said when asked if the company will bring new brands to the Philippines this year.

He also added that "for food perspective, we're finalizing the launch of another food concept next year."

According to Huang, the share of food in SSI Group's overall business is still "small" but the company wants to increase it every year, adding that the prospects for Shake Shack is very good.

The SSI Group, which maintains a portfolio of 90 brands, is the company that brought some of the world’s most recognizable and upscale brands like Zara, Calvin Klein, Bershka, Burberry, Aeropostale, Gucci, Gap, Furla, Lacoste, LeSportsac, Marks and Spencer, Muji, and Payless to the Philippines. Its portfolio is mostly on fashion and personal care brands, but the company also operates TWG and SaladStop!

Its latest investment in the food business is Shake Shack, known globally for its 100 percent all-natural Angus beef burgers that made its debut in Manila last week.

Shake Shack was brought to the Philippines by Specialty Food Retailers, Inc. (SFRI) through an exclusive franchise deal. SFRI is a member of SSI Group.

SSI Group has ended 2018 with a significant net income growth of P608 million, higher by 121 percent than last year, and recurring income of P725.3 million, an increase of 11 percent.

In the fourth quarter of last year alone, the company booked a net income of P240.4 million, an increase of 362 percent year on year, as well as recurring income of P292.5 million, higher by 41 percent last year.

The company's revenues for the fourth quarter also went up by eight percent to P6.4 billion, with full year revenues increasing 10 percent to an all time high of P20.2 billion.

Huang said that while he can't yet disclose the company's first quarter earnings, he said he is happy with it.