CONTI’S Bakeshop and Restaurant, the well-loved source of holiday Mango Bravo cake along with other goodies, was gobbled up by Davao-based Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp. last year. As it stands, expect a few changes in the coming year for the familiar brand including a major expansion.
Conti’s officially opened its newest branch at Gateway Tower in the Araneta Center, Quezon City on Jan. 8. It is the chain’s 22nd branch, and the second to open since its Udenna Corp. acquisition (the first was in Festival Mall).
The chain was founded by three sisters: Cecille Maranon, Carole Sumulong, and Angie Martinez, who shared the maiden name Conti. The bakery and restaurant was founded in 1997 from their kitchen in Parañaque. The sisters expanded it to 20 branches around Metro Manila, and currently hold 30% of the company, while the majority of 70% has been bought by Udenna Corp.
Joey Garcia, CEO for Conti’s, told BusinessWorld that the changes to expect with Conti’s in 2019 would include a thrust in store development: from redesign to expansion. “Hopefully, we can open another 20 stores,” he said. Conti’s Business Development and Marketing Director, Michael Martinez, said, “Make it 30.”
In any case, Mr. Garcia plans to double the store count for Conti’s, citing to their advantage good relationships with developers and landlords. “A lot of these developers are looking forward to working with us,” he said.
He also cited as a thrust the improvement of store designs for added efficiency. As well, there’s a search for relevance in the younger market. “Our stores, I must say, were not that ‘Instagrammable’,” said Mr. Garcia.
In line with the goal of a doubled store count, is the goal of bringing Conti’s locations closer to Metro Manila’s neighborhoods.
As well as Conti’s, Udenna Corp.’s shopping spree included the purchase of Enderun Colleges back in 2017. The company added these to a portfolio which includes the franchise for Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart. The company also has dealings in shipping and logistics via Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., real estate and infrastructure ventures through Udenna Development and Udenna Infrastructure, respectively, and Phoenix Petroleum.
Speaking about the diversity of the Udenna Corp.’s holdings, Mr. Garcia said, “For us, I think what we bring in to the group is our expertise in shared services.” For example, since the culinary programs of Enderun Colleges are within Udenna Corp.’s reach, the chefs behind those programs can help with research and development of products and the restaurants.
If one worries about changing too much of the familiar, however, Mr. Garcia assured BusinessWorld that since the original founders are still on board, the changes won’t be too radical. “We will maintain what they have started, and we will get better,” said Mr. Garcia.
Earlier in a statement announcing the acquisition in September 2018, Udenna Corp. Chair and Founder Mr. Uy said, “We are very bullish on the Philippine food industry, which has expanded with the growing demand for convenience. Specifically, the Philippines food service industry amounts to roughly $7.2 billion and over the past decades has had annual growth of 15% to 20%. We believe this transaction brings strong synergies with our existing portfolio, which includes hospitality and tourism.”
“Having Conti’s is just one step,” said Mr. Garcia. “We will still want to grow our F&B group under the Enderun Food Group, which is part of the Udenna Corp.”
“Eventually, you will hear more news about Enderun Food having more brands.” — Joseph L. Garcia