JOLLIBEE Foods Corp. (JFC) has recorded 1,186 stores to date and has grown bigger than the combined store count of its two closest competitors to make it the country’s top fast-food restaurant, its top official said.

“Now Jollibee here in the Philippines is bigger than its next two competitors, McDonald’s and KFC, combined,” JFC President and Chief Executive Officer Ernesto Tanmantiong said at a Makati Business Club event last week.

According to Mr. Tanmantiong, the number of Jollibee stores makes the Philippines “the only country where a local brand was able to compete with two global giants.”

JFC reported that this year, it opened 180 new stores globally and 50 new stores locally as of the second quarter. Last year, 313 new stores were opened internationally and 85 new stores locally.

“Since 2020, the majority of our store openings have been happening outside the Philippines. And we intend to continue this through 2022 and beyond as we aim for a 50-50 split between domestic and international sales,” Mr. Tanmantiong said.

JFC has also been expanding its international brands overseas such as SmashBurger, Tim Ho Wan, and the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

“I’m happy to share that all these three brands are better today versus pre-pandemic — a positive sign that there’s plenty more room to grow,” Mr. Tanmantiong said.

In 2020, JFC opened in Shanghai its first Tim Ho Wan store in mainland China, which it followed with store openings in Beijing and Hangzhou.

“Given the potential and the success of our new stores we will be opening 100 Tim Ho Wan stores in China, which is one of our pillar markets,” Mr. Tanmantiong said.

Meanwhile, JFC said that Jollibee will continue expanding globally as it sees huge opportunities in the brand.

“It really appeals to a global and diverse audience. In the UK, up to 80% of our patrons in our newest stores are local mainstream customers who are not Filipino. In the Middle East, we also see other diverse groups increasingly going to Jollibee,” Mr. Tanmantiong said.

He added: “In Hong Kong, the local Chinese market makes up the majority of our customers. The same is true in Singapore and Brunei. In Vietnam, nearly 100% of our patrons are local customers.”

Even in countries where Jollibee is less known, landlords offer prime sites at lower rates, he said.

“With all of these, we are proud to say that Jollibee has shown strong business results despite immense challenges and obstacles in the last two years,” Mr. Tanmantiong said.

In 2021, JFC recorded an operating income of P6.3 billion, reversing its P11.5-million operating loss in 2020, he said.

“With the solid recovery achieved in 2021, we are geared for further growth in 2022 and years ahead. To achieve our vision, we’re determined to not just lead locally but also grow globally,” Mr. Tanmantiong said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile