By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

SHAKEY’S PIZZA Asia Ventures, Inc. (SPAVI) targets to open at least five stores under its newly acquired restaurant chain Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken.

The listed full-service restaurant operator said this will be in addition to the 20 new Shakey’s stores it will open in the country this year, or a total of 248 Shakey’s stores by end-2019.

“We just took over (Peri-Peri in) June 1. Maybe as a guidance, five to six stores will be realistic. We’re still trying to learn this new brand. We don’t want to be haphazard here, because we wanna do it right,” SPAVI President and Chief Executive Officer Vicente L. Gregorio said in a briefing after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.

SPAVI in April acquired the Peri-Peri business from businessman Bryan Tiu’s iFoods Group, Inc., the same firm behind homegrown brands Tokyo Cafe, Stackers Burger Cafe, and Parmigiano.

Mr. Gregorio said one of the new Peri-Peri stores will be located in the soon to be finished Ayala Mall in the Manila Bay Area, while two will be located in Quezon City. They are negotiating two more locations inside the SM Group’s malls in Metro Manila.

Peri-Peri currently has 23 stores, 60% of which are franchised while the rest are company-owned. Mr. Gregorio said that all stores they will be opening for the moment will be owned by the company.

Meanwhile, SPAVI is tracking a double-digit growth for both its revenues and net income for full-year 2019 on the back of a three to four percent target for same-store sales growth (SSSG). Mr. Gregorio noted that the first quarter has been very challenging for the food industry, with other players reporting a flat performance or a decline in SSSG.

At the same time, SPAVI continues to bring down its costs to boost net income margins.

“Last 2018 the margins have grown faster than sales and revenues, we believe we’ve been making progress on efforts to bring down and manage costs. We expect to intensify that to keep it the same or hopefully even better,” Mr. Gregorio said.

The company is also introducing new products in its menu, such as a breakfast line, to improve sales in traditionally weak portions of the day.

Overseas, Mr. Gregorio said they are looking to open the third Shakey’s stores in the United Arab Emirates soon.

SPAVI’s net income attributable to the parent grew three percent to P188.38 million in the first quarter of 2019, amid a four percent uptick in gross revenues to P1.84 billion.

Shares in SPAVI added 0.14% or two centavos to close at P14.14 apiece at the stock exchange on Thursday.