By James A. Loyola
Jollibee Foods Corporation,one of the fastest growing Asian restaurant companies in the world, is aiming to expand its presence in Vietnam as it is bullish about the country’s booming economy.
“If the whole country keeps on going, then you can say, replicate as the Philippines,” said JFC Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong at the sidelines of the firm’s annual stockholders’ meeting.
The firm already has 1,150 Jollibee stores in the Philippines as well as over 2,000 stores in the Philippines for its Chowking, Red Ribbon, Greenwich, Mang Inasal and Burger King chains.
JFC Chief Finance Officer Ysmael Baysa said they are planning to open 20 to 30 Jollibee stores a year in Vietnam as well as 100 Highlands Coffee store per year.
He noted that, Highlands stores are not just concentrated in Ho Chi Minh City but is also spread out in the provinces.
While the branches requires higher investments to put up, Baysa they are “one of the most profitable businesses in terms of margin.”
He added that, they continue to review plans for an initial public offering of Highlands Coffee in Vietnam is they need to ramp up its expansion.
Meanwhile, Baysa said they are planning to expand Pho24 outside of Vietnam, maybe in the United States “because it’s a very healthy food.”
As of the end of the first quarter, JFC’s businesses in Vietnam included 117 Jollibee stores, 284 Highlands Coffee branches, 18 PHO24, and two Hard Rock Cafe 6 restaurants.
JFC President Ernesto Tanmantiong said JFC is also planning to open the first Panda Express branch in Metro Manila this year or early next year.Panda Express is America’s largest family-owned and operated Chinese food chain.
He added that, after recently acquiring full control of Smashburger, they are now focusing on turning around the business, noting that, they normally bring a newly-acquired brand to profitability in about two years.