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Jollibee to open first UK location, signs $12.4 million deal with Mexican casual dining giant

With new branches also set to open in Manhattan and Macau, there really isn’t a market, local or international, that this super chain can’t touch

Photo from Inquirer.net

Manhattan, Macau, and the United Kingdom are next in Jollibee Food Corporation’s (JFC) overseas expansion plans. The fast food monolith said in a statement on Wednesday that it will be opening its first branches in Macau on Sept. 28 and in the UK on Oct. 20; operations in Manhattan are slated to begin in a few months.

The company, which just opened a Jollibee branch in Milan (the first in Europe) last March and announced plans to acquire the master franchise of Tim Ho Wan in the Asia Pacific, aims to replicate in these markets the kind of success it has seen in countries like Vietnam, Hong Kong, Brunei, and Singapore. Jollibee has had some overseas success in serving not only Filipinos abroad and Western audiences who—by word of mouth and lots of online exposure—have become curious about the brand but also locals of Asian countries like Brunei and Singapore.

This success has given them serious international leverage—the kind that allows them to confidently set high targets in terms of market capitalization. All the while maintaining a stronghold in the Philippines’ fast food market, JFC is aiming to continuously and steadily up its total market value (and become among the world’s top five largest restaurant companies in that respect) by tapping into China and the US—the world’s two largest economies.

Besides the abovementioned expansion plans, JFC is making strides in the American casual dining sector by striking multi-million partnerships with the likes of Rick Bayless, a chef and TV host best known for his take on Mexican dining. The company announced Sept. 7 that it purchased a 47 percent stake in Bayless’ Tortas Frontera for $12.4 million. This isn’t JFC’s first foray into acquiring shares in foreign markets. Early this year, it purchased an additional 45 percent stake in the burger chain Smashburger, shelling out $100 million to secure the acquisition.

But the recent deal with Bayless seems particularly marketable, seeing as Tortas Frontera is shaping up to be a profitable fast-casual location—perhaps only second to Taco Bell. As Eater puts it, there’s a lot of room for Mexican food to grow in America.

According to JFC’s company filing, the partnership with Bayless targets to “build a significant business in the large and fast growing Mexican food category in the United States.” Bayless on the other hand wrote in an e-mail to Chicago Tribune: “We’re joining forces with Jollibee because they have the infrastructure to grow Tortas Frontera. We thought it would be best to work with partners who understand what it means to slowly create the perfect unit. We will learn a lot in the next two years.”

With over 2,000 Jollibee branches around the world and large shares in various brands, JFC is primed for global domination.

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