Jollibee introduced a new store design catering to the local market in Europe. -- Company handout

Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) is banking on its international businesses to drive growth in both sales and profits this year.   

“The international business will drive our sales and profit growth with our continued expansion in China, Vietnam, and North America led by Smashburger and our Philippine brands,” Ernesto Tanmantiong, president and chief executive officer of JFC, said at the stockholders’ meeting on Friday.  

“We are also expecting the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Highlands Coffee to contribute significantly to this growth,” he added.   

JFC’s businesses abroad are said to contribute 40% to its global systemwide sales. The company is hoping to increase this to at least 50% of global systemwide sales in three years, reaching its goal of having a 50/50 business split.   

Expansion plans will be accelerated in the coming months prompted by the positive outlook in China and the United States, which are recovering faster from the pandemic, Mr. Tanmantiong said, adding the Philippines is expected to follow suit. 

JFC has earmarked a record P12.2-billion for capital expenditures this year, funded by internally generated funds and proceeds from its bond issuance last year.   

“We are opening about 450 stores in 2021,” Mr. Tanmantiong said. “In 2022, as the world returns to normalcy, we expect to open at least 500 stores similar to how we were doing prior to the pandemic and most likely, even higher than 500 in the succeeding years.”  

As of the first quarter this year, the company opened 79 stores across its brands, while 76 stores were permanently closed.  

Shares of JFC at the stock exchange on Friday went up by 1.89% to close at P216 apiece from P212. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte