INTERNATIONAL | Staff Reporter, UK

Jollibee says UK a ‘key market' for its global growth

The Philippines’ largest fast food chain believes its products have a universal appeal.

Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), owner of the Philippines’ largest fast food brand, shows no signs of halting its plans for worldwide expansion.

Making waves for their tear-jerking marketing videos, family-style appeal, and their signature Chickenjoy, the brand has capitalised on their domestic success by expanding its international reach – especially in territories with established or growing overseas Filipino communities.

Throughout the year, the fast food group has also grabbed business headlines for its acquisition moves.

Last February, JFC raised its stake in U.S.-based fast casual brand Smashburger to 85%. In May, it said it would invest SGD$ 45 million in Titan Dining Partners Ltd., a private equity which will acquire the Tim Ho Wan master franchise in Asia Pacific. The company is also looking to bring Vietnamese chain Pho 24 to the Philippines through its wholly-owned unit Fresh N’ Famous Foods, Inc. later this year.

Earlier this month, Jollibee’s bosses say they are also eyeing a Mexican brand to boost their global expansion. Currently, Jollibee has over 4,200 stores in 21 territories across 12 brands – including the namesake chain. The company reportedly aims to derive 50% of its revenue from overseas operations by 2023.

Recently, they announced their plan to build 500 new stores, including in new markets like the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Indonesia as part of its P12-billion spending plan.

QSR Media spoke to Dennis Flores, president and business head of Jollibee Foods Corporation’s international business in Europe, Middle East, and Asia, who elaborated on the group’s strategy behind its plan to expand in the UK, how the move would fit in their overall international strategy, and how they intend to differentiate themselves in the country’s fast food scene.

QSR Media: What were the definitive factors that led to Jollibee's decision to expand to a new market like the UK?
Jollibee considers UK as one the key markets in line with the brand’s global growth. We currently have a strong presence in South East Asia, the Middle East and the US, and we are continuously looking to set foot in new markets as part of our strategic expansion. Opening our first store in the United Kingdom is yet another milestone launch for the brand and will help our presence in the European continent.

Jollibee Foods Corporation's Dennis Flores (Photo credit: Supplied)

QSR Media: When and where will Jollibee open its first stores in the UK? What is the rationale for your location decisions?

Jollibee will open its first store in central London, specifically Earl’s Court – a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in the 4th quarter of this year. Central London is among the highest traffic and more densely populated areas in the UK and would be an ideal location mainly because of its accessibility for our target customers – Filipinos and locals alike.

QSR Media: How big does Jollibee want to get in the UK?
We would like to have a significant presence in the UK. We will do this not only by the sheer volume of stores, but strategic selection of the best locations for our stores, to maximize accessibility and best serve all our potential customers.

Some of Jollibee's signature offerings, including their Chickenjoy. (Photo credit: Jollibee Philippines Facebook page)

QSR Media: How will Jollibee differentiate itself from its competitors in the UK fast food scene?
We put our consumers at the heart of our marketing strategies. Our team carefully studies each new market to make sure that our brand values and Unique Selling Propositions are communicated effectively. Jollibee as one of the Philippines’ market leader and most-loved brand is concrete proof of the success in remaining true to our mission: to serve unique, great tasting food at great value for money, matched with the atmosphere of family and fun that everyone can enjoy and love!

QSR Media: Who is your target market?
Primarily the Filipino community in the UK, but we also expect to attract the locals there. Our products, family culture, and positioning carries a universal appeal and drives the brand’s expansion both locally and overseas.

(Photo credit: Jollibee Philippines Facebook page)

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