CONTI’S and Wendy’s operator Eight-8-Ate Holdings, Inc. is banking on new stores in the provinces to boost system-wide revenue by 12% this year, according to its chief executive.

“This year, we’re slowing it down,” Joey R. Garcia, president and chief executive officer at Eight-8-Ate, told reporters on Friday. “We’re looking at at least 5% same-store sales growth. Our system-wide sales will grow at around 12% because we’re adding new stores.”

The company will add six Conti’s stores this year, mostly standalones, to 80. The first one was expected to open at SM Bataan at the weekend. Conti’s accounts for 60% of the company’s revenue.

“Our expansion for Conti’s will be mainly in provincial cities or key cities in provinces,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

“Our strategy for Conti’s for the year is to limit the number of stores that we’re opening but do a lot of the renovation of the old stores,” Mr. Garcia said. “We have about eight stores in the pipeline that we will renovate.”

The company will spend P2 million to P3 million on average per Conti’s store for the facelift, which includes little touch-ups and changes to the furniture.

Eight-8-Ate plans to open 15 Wendy’s stores this year including the two that the company opened earlier this year.

“There’s another 13 in the pipeline. In total, by the end of the year, I think we’ll end up with about 86 to 90 stores,” he said.

He said 90% of Wendy’s stores are company-owned, while the rest are franchises.

Mr. Garcia said there are no plans to go public yet. “That’s not a priority for us. I think we’re still relatively young as a group.”

“We have a lot of opportunities to bring Conti’s to other parts of the Philippines,” he said. “We’re not even in the far north. Our farthest store is in Pangasinan. And we still want to expand as far as the Bicol side and the south.”

He said the company might go to international markets, such as the US, preferably by finding a partner as a master franchisee.

“But we have no plans to go out yet. We are still studying it, so we are trying to understand the US market,” he said.

“It’s too early because there is still a big opportunity for us here (in the Philippines),” Mr. Garcia said. “But if ever there’s an opportunity, at least we already understand the market.” — Justine Irish D. Tabile