By Vincent Mariel P. Galang, Reporter

FRUITAS Holdings, Inc. said its store network now exceeds 1,000, as the food and beverage kiosk operator is set to list on the stock exchange on Friday.

In a statement on Thursday, Fruitas said it has 1,036 stores around the country as of Nov. 26, after opening new kiosks in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro.

The company has embarked on an aggressive nationwide expansion, opening 106 new kiosks so far this year. It had ended 2018 with 930 stores.

Fruitas will debut on the stock exchange today (Nov. 29) under the ticker FRUIT. It is the fourth and last company to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) this year, following Kepwealth Property Phils, Inc. in August, and Axelum Resources Corp. and AllHome Corp. in October.

“We are happy with the results of the offering of Fruitas. The broker tranche was more than 2.5 times oversubscribed, while the local small investor tranche was a record amount for a Philippine IPO. The exceptional performance and positive response from the market prove that the public believes in Fruitas’ strong fundamentals and aggressive expansion plans in the country,” First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) Executive Vice-President Daniel D. Camacho was quoted as saying in a Fruitas press statement.

FMIC and BDO Capital are the joint issue managers, bookrunners, and lead underwriters for the Fruitas IPO.

The company targeted to raise up to P1.2 billion from the offering of 533.66 million shares with an over-allotment option up to 68.34 million shares. The IPO share price stood at P1.68 apiece. If overallotment option is maximized, the company’s public float will be 28.2%.

Proceeds from the offering will be used to finance Fruitas’ store openings and upgrade of existing ones, as well as introduction of new brands, repayment of debts, commissary expansion and expansion of food parks.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. research Associate Claire T. Alviar said Fruitas has good prospects, given its lower IPO price and the familiarity of its brands to investors.

“Lastly, slowdown of inflation as well is favorable for Fruitas due to higher consumer spending,” she said in a text message.

As for PNB Securities, Inc. President Manuel Antonio G. Lisbona noted that demand from the brokerage company’s clients “was around 13 times what was allocated to each PSE trading participants.”

In a research note for Fruitas, PNB Securities sees “bright prospects amidst a competitive environment” for the company, given its good record of introducing and developing brands.

PNB Securities said Fruitas’ plan to establish 200 news stores annually from 2020 to 2022 is possible due to new malls being built at the same period, with an average of 20 per year from SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPH), Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC), and Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI), among others.

“The IPO proceeds strengthen Fruitas’ balance sheet and enables it to expand, replace old vehicles and pay debt. With the jump in cash, net working capital becomes positive, and accounts payables and lease liabilities are seen to remain as Fruitas’ biggest liabilities with debt paid,” PNB Securities said.

In 2002, Fruitas started with a single kiosk in SM Manila, until it became a market leader in its four business segments, which include fruit shakes — Fruitas, coconut beverages — Buko ni Fruitas, meat-filled pastries — De Original Jamaican Pattie, and lemonade beverage — Johnn Lemon.