In major expansion, Jollibee targets 100 US, 150 Canada branches

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC), the Filipino-owned Asian food conglomerate, is stepping up its global expansion program to hasten its ambitious target of making it the top five biggest restaurant companies in the world.

As part of the plan, JFC targets to put up 100 stores in the US by yearend and 150 stores in Canada in the next five years.

“The company’s aggressive growth across North America speaks of a larger vision to become one of the top five global restaurant companies,” JFC chief executive officer Ernesto Tanmantiong said.

Just last month, JFC opened its very first store in New York’s Manhattan, which saw long lines of mixed Filipino and American customers willingly waiting up to 20 hours to finally get their hands on the brand’s world-famous Chickenjoy.

The appeal to the mainstream local market is also seen in numerous branches in different states across the US, which contributed to JFC’s strong growth rate in 2017 that outpaced that of the US restaurant industry.

The late Anthony Bourdain, who was seen many times eating at Jollibee branches in the Philippines and has featured the fastfood chain a couple of times on his show, has helped put the Jollibee brand on the radar in America.

“North America is a key growth market for us at Jollibee to achieve our goal of becoming one of the top five restaurant companies in the world,” Tanmantiong said.

“With the recent opening of our first branch in Manhattan, which is known for its diverse population, we are happy to reach more and more people with our delicious food and warm service,” he added.

The company, which started with two ice cream parlors, now has 14 brands with over 4,300 stores spread across 20 countries.

Aside from the recently opened Manhattan brand, JFC has a strong presence in the US through an 85 percent stake in Smashburger. It also signed an agreement with Michelin-starred chef Rick Bayless to create a Mexican food concept.

Tanmantiong said JFC wants to replicate its success in the Philippine market in other jurisdictions.

It has successfully crossed over to other countries outside its home base, proving its appeal to a wider audience. In Vietnam, it has over 100 stores and is the fastest growing restaurant brand in the country, with a majority of its customers being local Vietnamese. The same trend is also being seen in Hong Kong, Singapore and Brunei.

Officials attribute Jollibee’s worldwide appeal is due to its flagship product Chickenjoy. Other Jollibee favorites include a unique sweet-style Jolly Spaghetti and Peach Mango Pie, which combines peaches with real Philippine mangos enveloped in a flaky and savory crust.

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