Fiorgelato to enter Asean market next year

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Milkin’ Corp., the company behind homegrown Italian gelato and café brands Fiorgelato and Fior Café, is set to expand outside the Philippines and enter the Southeast Asian market, in line with its expansion program.

Richie Z. Cuna, president and chief executive officer of Milkin’ Corp, said the company is in its 22nd year of expansion and is at the near end of its 25-year program.

To cap off the 25-year plan, Cuna noted its gelato ice cream brand Fiorgelato will be launched overseas through franchising in the ASEAN region starting next year.

“Part of the 25-year program is to establish the company, have a franchising program, and before we reach the 25th year starting 2015, we will start going global. 2015 is the globalization year of Fiorgelato,” Cuna emphasized.

Cuna said the company is in talks with six “potential franchisees” all over the region, which is seen to close “at least one to three” of them next year to jump start its expansion plan.

This will be the first time the brand will be established outside the Philippines, as the company is capitalizing on the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration next year.

Cuna explained the target is to expand in markets “almost the same as the Philippines,” therefore in ASEAN, given Fiorgelato’s strong customer base in the country especially in the A, B and C market and also due to the growing middle class segment.

“If the foreign companies are capturing us by entering the Philippine market, then we should do the same and capture them as well,” Cuna said, noting the rising competition in the region due to the integration.

With the expansion plan, Milkin’ is looking to close its 25 years in 2017 with a modest presence in the ASEAN.

Cuna stressed: “We’ll stick to our [high end to middle market] niche as we enter the ASEAN market. As we go on, we’ll see if localization or any developments in the brand will be made in accordance to the markets across the region.”

In the Philippine arena, Milkin’ is looking to intensify its brands as it targets to open or franchise 24 branches yearly starting next year for both Fiorgelato and Fior Café nationwide.

Asked why the company is keen on franchising, the Milkin’ chief said it is a faster way of growing a business, citing that the method is effective in the Philippines.

“Through franchising, you can expand faster. At the same time, you’ll be able to give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to grow their businesses. Franchising is another way of getting to a business. It’s a proven system, brand recall and there is an element of success in the industry,” Cuna added.

After the 25-year plan, Cuna further said the company is determined to enter the greater Asian market, especially in Japan.

Established 22 years ago, Milkin’ now has almost a hundred Fiorgelato outlets nationwide, 40 of which are franchised and the rest are company-owned.

Aside from Milkin’, Cuna owns two more consumer-related and franchise-oriented companies -- ACG Philippines and Trio Mix Foods -- which are mostly involved in the manufacturing, processing and distribution of low end to specialty ice cream and gelato brands.

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