By Mario Toneguzzi
Popular Filipino fast food chain Jollibee is planning a massive expansion across Canada. The company says that it is planning to open 100 locations in the country in the next five years.
There are currently three locations open in Canada - one in Scarborough and two in Winnipeg.
The first Winnipeg store opened in December a year ago with the second store opening at the end of November 2017.
Jose Minana, Jollibee Foods Corporation’s North American Group President, told Retail Insider that the company’s massive expansion plans in Canada is “realistic.”
“It’s a matter of having the ability to ramp this up and as we look at our organization and our capabilities, 100 stores would be something that’s very realistic for us to do,” he said.
Minana said many people have asked him why Winnipeg was the launching pad initially for the company’s foray into Canada.
“Winnipeg has the highest density of Filipinos in any city in Canada,” he said. “There’s 70,000 Filipinos over there. And so right away we opened two and they’re doing very well. Clearly we’re planning to open a couple more there in Winnipeg but we started off by going over here, obviously to Ontario.
“We opened Scarborough April 1. We plan to open Mississauga towards the end of next month. And then go into the other major provinces in Alberta then in British Columbia and these other key cities.”
Jollibee began when Tony Tan and his family opened a Magnolia ice cream parlor at Cubao in 1975 which became the first Jollibee outlet. In 1978, Jollibee was incorporated as a 100 per cent Filipino-owned company with seven fast food restaurants within Metro Manila as its initial network.
In 2015, it reached its 1,000th store with its first location in Dubai, UAE.
Today, it is the largest fast food chain in the Philippines and it has embarked on an aggressive international expansion plan in the U.S., Vietnam, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei.
Its menu includes favourites Jolly Crispy Chicken, Yumburger, Champ burger and Jollibee Spaghetti.
Today it has almost 1,300 stores.
Minana said one of the key factors that goes into deciding where Jollibee sets up roots in markets is the composition of Filipinos in that population.
“The first thing we do is look at the density of Filipinos in each city and that gives us an idea of how big the store should be and where it should be located at,” he said.
“In Canada, there are about 700,000 Filipinos. In the U.S., there are about 3.4 million Filipinos. However, here in Canada what we see . . . the market is very, very open to international brands. Very open to new types of products, regardless of where they come from.”
Jollibee Foods Corporation is currently the largest Asian food service company, operating in 16 markets, with over 4,200 stores globally, of which 1,289 are Jollibee brand stores. The company’s aggressive expansion plan in North America is part of its overarching goal to be among the top five restaurant brands globally, it said.
Minana said the Jollibee brand has a universally-appealing product in terms of fried chicken, spaghetti and pies.
“But these universally-appealing products are also very unique on their own,” he said.
“It’s amazing the number of (crispy) chickens that we sell here in Canada. It’s a lot more than we sell in the Philippines on a per store basis. Our spaghetti is very, very unique. It’s sweet-style spaghetti with hot dogs . . . It’s a very Filipino tradition to have spaghetti for birthdays. I grew up with spaghetti in my younger days. Basically the majority did. There’s this belief that you’ve got to eat noodles, the longer the noodles the better because it’s for longer life. And Jollibee spaghetti has been part and parcel of the Filipino’s life as they grew up.
“We have peach/mango pie. The mangos are all imported from the Philippines. We’re very proud of our mangos. It’s really one of the best in the world. You mix it with Western peach. It’s quite different. It’s a universally accepted product but with a very different twist. It makes it very unique.”
The market capitalization for Jollibee Foods Corporation is US$6.3 billion.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org