Monday, July 3, 2017

Jollibee takes on US, global markets through Smashburger

MANILA - Jollibee Foods Corp said Monday it was planning to bring its US brand, Smashburger, to a global audience, as it continues to look overseas for growth.

Jollibee owns 40 percent of Smashburger, which competes in the "better burger" segment with Shake Shack and Five Guys. It has the option to raise its stake to 100 percent through its subsidiary, Bee Good Inc.

"We believe it has great potential to go international because it is superior tasting," Jollibee CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong told ANC's The Boss in an exclusive interview.

Potential overseas markets for Smashburger include the Philippines, where Jollibee also operates Burger King, Tanmantiong said.

Smashburger will not compete with Burger King since it is on a higher price tier, he said.

Tanmantiong said Smashburger helps Jollibee learn more about the US market, which is part of the company's "three pillars" alongside the Philippines and China.

"With the joint partnership, we can help them grow from a regional chain into a national chain," he said.

The company's 1,000th store on Monday, located in Bonifacio Global City, will be open to the public on Tuesday. A blessing was held on Monday.

Tanmantiong said Jollibee was "open" to acquisitions and the strategy overseas included attracting locals, not just expatriate Filipino workers.

In Singapore, 4 out of 5 Jollibee branches cater mostly to locals. The same is true in Brunei for 85 percent of its 14 stores, he said.

Jollibee incurred costs from complying with new labor rules but the company was able to manage this, along with higher prices of raw materials, he said.