From Britain to Italy, Why is Jollibee on a World Tour?

Spreading Chickenjoy love.
Photo/s: Jollibee/Handout

In less than a month, Jollibee opened new stores in the U.S., Britain and Italy and reimagined its Chickenjoy for Singapore. That's four location pins in three continents. Why is the Philippines' homegrown fastfood giant so busy?

Back home, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Jollibee hard as people are forced to stay indoors. In the first three months of the year, the company announced its first ever quarterly net loss since it went public in 1983. It got worse in the succeeding quarter, when losses reached P10.7 billion.

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Jollibee dominates the Philippine market with its eponymous brand that is known for Chickenjoy and sweet-style spaghetti to its other stores that also perform strongly in their segments: Chowking, Mang Inasal and Greenwhich.

An overseas expansion is the next frontier. Jollibee is targeting Filipino expats and is hoping that they bring locals along with them when they visit the restaurant. In the U.K., Jollibee's chicken has a boneless option with dips and sides. In Singapore, there's a nasi lemak twist with coconut rice and "dilis."

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"Jollibee has already been pursuing aggressive expansion overseas for several years. It's rather hard to expand locally at double digits given how saturated the Philippine market is," said Regina Capital Head of Sales Luis Limlingan.

"In light of the pandemic, overseas markets have been more resilient given that a lot of these countries have not resorted to stricter lockdowns and have dine in options," he told reportr.

In markets where the Jollibee brand will not work, the company is expanding by buying new brands, to mixed success. Smashburger, which challenges Five Guys, has been a drag on Jollibee's earnings. The company also divested from noodle chains mainland China.

It's most recent acquisition was The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. While lagging behind Starbucks in the Philippines, Jollibee said Coffee Bean would give it a foothold in other coffee-loving markets such as Indonesia.

Jollibee's long-term goal is to rank within the Top 5 fast-food restaurants in the world, led by McDonald's, which it beat in the Philippines.

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