Jollibee – A Rising Star on the UK Franchising Scene?

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jollobee uk

Originally posted on 06/11/2018. Updated on 08/05/2019.

Although the restaurant chain Jollibee is not a household name here in the UK, it is quickly becoming one of the most popular fast-food restaurants in the world. The brand offers products that appeal to the Filipino palette but also incorporate elements of other cuisines. Jollibee’s most popular products include the Yumburger (a classic hamburger), the Chicken Joy (fried chicken) and Jolly Spaghetti (a sweetened spaghetti dish). Alongside these meals, Jollibee also offers noodle and rice dishes, hot dogs, chips and ice cream.

Let’s take a look at whether the business has adopted a franchise model and what has driven its success.

The History of the Brand

The story of Jollibee begins in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. In 1978, Tony Tan Caktiong founded the brand’s very first outlet there, introducing his unique menu of fast food. This restaurant catered to the distinct tastes of the Filipino population and went down very well. Within a year, seven more outlets were opened in the area. The locals loved the Jollibee food, and the brand’s growing fame and profitability enabled it to launch a franchise model and open its first franchise unit in the city in 1979. Since then, the company hasn’t looked back, and continues to expand across the world.

Jollibee’s International Success

Jollibee has built on its reputation as the Philippines’ favourite fast-food restaurant in order to grow into other international markets. The restaurants aim to provide spaces in which families can enjoy quality time together, but their unique fast-food offering appeals to many people. Although more and more people across the world are embracing a change from normal fast food by regularly visiting Jollibee outlets, the business has hugely benefitted from the loyalty of Filipino expat communities when opening new units in different geographical markets.

It’s fair to say that this brand is something of a phenomenon. In the US, new stores have been greeted with scenes that resemble film premieres, with customers driving hours and queueing around the block to get in and taste their beloved Jollibee dishes. The US was instrumental in introducing the Jollibee brand to the rest of the world, but this year Vietnam will become the country with the most Jollibee outlets after the Philippines. With seemingly universal appreciation of the Jollibee franchise, the brand’s expansion in the UK is an exciting prospect.

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Jollibee Franchise

Jollibee serves up its tasty food to consumers across the globe. While it is the largest fast food chain in the Philippines, with over 750 branches, it has also set up 37 restaurants in the US and more than 500 restaurants in other countries, including Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Canada. While many of its flagship stores are company-owned, Jollibee has always been open to franchising and continues to look out for prospective franchisees who can expand the business even further.

Jollibee London

Shortly after opening its first European restaurant in Milan, Jollibee announced the launch of its first UK branch. It is located on Earl's Court Road, London and already has a positive reputation among locals. Jollibee has identified the UK as a key market in its future development scheme. Instead of rapidly launching a number of locations in a short period of time, the business plans on executing a slow rollout that will focus on delivering excellent results in strategically chosen locations. Building on previous experience, Jollibee will initially establish its target market as the UK’s Filipino expatriate community, before finding new, loyal customers in Brits who are not familiar with the brand.

Fast Food Chains UK

Jollibee has high hopes for its expansion in the UK. There is no doubt that it will experience significant competition from McDonald’s, KFC, Subway and Burger King. However, while these world-famous brands boast similar product offerings to that of Jollibee, the latter could see success by carving out its own place in the market, focussing on promoting its slightly different meal options. Jollibee also has an advantage over other new businesses trying to establish themselves as top fast-food providers, because it can use its influence as one of Asia’s biggest restaurant chains to create a buzz around its UK launch.

Jollibee’s Future Expansion

Those behind the Jollibee brand certainly don’t suffer from a lack of ambition. The founder, Tan Caktiong has publicly announced that he intends for the company to become one of the world's top five quick-service restaurants (QSRs) within the next five years. This will involve opening 300 stores in the Philippines every year whilst also rapidly expanding in the US and China. So, even if the fast-food brand doesn’t become one of the top five QSRs, there is no doubt that we’ll see more restaurants popping up in cities across the world in the coming years.

Expansion Via Acquisition

Taking a look behind the curtain, much of Jollibee’s expansion will be carried out through acquisitions. In fact, the business has already put aside over $1 billion for the purpose of acquiring competitive businesses. This policy is not new for the business; Jollibee Holdings, the franchise’s parent company, has already acquired an 85 percent share of the US-based Smashburger brand and owns the Chowking, Greenwich Pizza and Red Ribbon Bakeshop brands in the Philippines, as well as the rights to operate the Dunkin’ Donuts brand in China. By acquiring permission to expand an internationally-renowned US brand in one of the world’s largest consumer markets, Jollibee Holdings has huge purchasing power and worldwide influence. As a result, we can be fairly certain that Jollibee has a sparkling future ahead of it, and that any franchise opportunities hold great potential for business success.

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