THE pandemic is not stopping Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee from reaching its goal of opening 450 restaurants around the world in 2021.
Jollibee CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong said he is looking toward global expansion while looking for acquisitions that could be funded with the company’s P57.5 billion ($1.2 billion) in cash and short-term investments.
“There are opportunities coming out of the pandemic,” Tanmantiong told Bloomberg. “We are constantly assessing these opportunities.”
Last year, Jollibee posted a loss of P11.5 billion, its first annual loss in at least three decades as dining out was hit hard by the nationwide lockdown.
Jollibee is seeking expansion abroad amid a pandemic-induced recession in the Philippines and its delayed recovery due to the new spike in cases and delayed national vaccination campaign.
Tanmantiong told Bloomberg that around 80% of Jollibee’s new stores will be overseas and “equally split” among China, North America and Southeast Asia.
“We are now in expansion mode in preparation for the full recovery from the pandemic and this will continue in the next few years,” he said.
By 2025, half of the restaurant chain’s sales will come from abroad.
“We are investing more in foreign markets especially in markets where they have recovered fast from the pandemic,” added Tanmantiong.
Jollibee had more than 5,800 outlets in 33 markets worldwide at the end of last year — the result of closing 486 stores due to the pandemic.
To counter the impact of COVID-19, Jollibee has spent P7 billion on “business transformations” that included upgrades to its delivery and online sales platform.
Jollibee is predicted to post a net income of P4.12 billion this year, and P6.16 billion in 2022, according to averages of analyst estimates by Bloomberg.
Tanmantiong, in response, said the estimates are “attainable.”
“The challenge is really the availability of the vaccine and how soon we can achieve herd immunity,” he added.