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Japan, Manhattan in Jollibee Foods crosshairs

Fast-food giant Jollibee Foods (JFC) has named Japan, Manhattan in New York City and Toronto as its next franchise targets.

“We are focusing aggressively on opening up of the Jollibee brand outside the Philippines,” says JFC chairman Tony Tan Caktiong.

He says that when it opened a store in Illinois there was a queue with a waiting time of seven hours. “We also had a very successful opening in Jacksonville, Florida. It excited a lot of Filipinos there, and they took their non-Filipino friends with them,” he told the firm’s annual stockholders meeting on Friday.

“We were told that Japan is welcoming Filipinos now, particularly caregivers, as it has about 45 million citizens that need special care. So they’ll need caregivers and nurses to work there. I was told that the government is training Filipino nurses for Japan,” said Tan Caktiong.

“If that happens, Japan can be a big market for the Jollibee brand.”

The Filipino population in Japan numbered 206,103 last year, making it the third-largest foreign group there. In October, JFC signed an agreement with Japanese egg producer ISE Group to establish a $38.7 million poultry farm in the Philippines.

JFC has 3555 stores (3994 including Smashburger and the Superfoods Group brands) across 12 brands in 17 countries. The firm is aiming to hit 4000 this year.

Today it opens its 1000th Jollibee store in the Philippines, with plans to build about 250 stores across all its brands in the country  and 100 stores overseas by the end of the year. Last year it opened 244 stores in the Philippines and 58 overseas, marking the biggest expansion in the firm’s history.

These new stores contributed to total systemwide sales of PHP149.1 billion (US$2.9 billion), up 14.1 per cent from the previous year, its best performance in five years.

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