By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

FRUITAS Holdings, Inc. is taking on the so-called “new normal” with increased focus in its delivery capabilities and multi-product stores.

In a statement Wednesday, the operator of fruit and beverage kiosks said the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown that came with it have pushed it to adjust its approach to business.

“[Fruitas] is taking several specific initiatives to adapt to the ‘new normal’, anchored on further investment in its delivery business, opening new multi-product stores in communities, and continuing expansion through strategic network development, partnerships, and disciplined acquisitions,” it said.

Fruitas bought 100% of food delivery firm CocoDelivery, Inc. in March to expand the coverage of its services from solely Fruitas coconut water to include other Fruitas brands. Since the lockdown started, the company said CocoDelivery had proven effective in driving up sales to soften the blow of having to close its stores.

Now, Fruitas wants to build more CocoDelivery hubs that will double as fresh stores in communities located in Metro Manila and high-density provinces.

“We expect to convert or expand some existing store locations, leading to minimum capital expenditures. These stores will offer multiple products to extract maximum sales from each location,” it said.

Another strategy of the company is signing partnerships to increase the distribution channels for its products. Since the lockdown started, Fruitas has forged partnerships with Pan de Manila, Bukidnon Milk Company and PeriPeri Corp.

“It will continue to forge new partnerships to widen its distribution channels and/or increase product breadth… As the pandemic may cause stress on some businesses, Fruitas will evaluate attractive acquisition opportunities which may emerge,” it said.

When the company did its initial public offering (IPO) last year where it raised P1 billion in proceeds, it said its plan was to open 150 to 250 stores every year within the next three years. Fruitas said some of the store openings scheduled for 2020 might be pushed back to the first half of 2021.

“The proceeds from our recent IPO place us in a good position to withstand the headwinds from the current situation and strategically invest in new revenue and profit streams that will make us stronger after we emerge from COVID-19,” Fruitas President and Chief Executive Officer Lester C. Yu said in the statement.

He noted because of the nature of Fruitas’ business, which demands low capital expenditures as it is built on small-footprint stores, allows it to temper the impact of the pandemic.

Fruitas has not reported its latest earnings yet. Its shares at the stock exchange dipped one centavo or 0.83% to P1.20 each on Wednesday.