RESTAURANT operator Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) plans to expand in Europe “by growing to 50 stores” in the next five years, after seeing a positive debut in Rome, Liverpool, and Leicester City in the previous year despite the pandemic.

“The Jollibee Group is dedicated to growing the Jollibee brand in the UK and across Europe. Investing £50 million demonstrates our commitment to become a major player in the European quick-service industry,” Dennis M. Flores, Jollibee group’s regional business head for Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Its European flagship store will be launched in London’s Leicester Square this year. Seven more branches are set to open, including its first stores in Edinburgh’s Scotland and in Wales in Cardiff.

Jollibee will also open its first store in Spain, which will be located in Madrid.

In its newest stores in the United Kingdom, the company said 70% of its customers are locals.

The company has since launched new food offerings, which include: Asian Slaw, Tropical Burger, Mango Coconut Sundae, and Asian Chicken Tender Rice Bowl.

“The pandemic may have been a setback, but it will not deter us from pursuing our vision for Jollibee in the UK and the rest of Europe,” Mr. Flores said.

Jollibee is hoping to attract more customers by its new store design, which highlights Filipino heritage “while adapting to the European market.”

JFC Chief Real Estate Officer William Tan Untiong said it was important for the company to highlight the “upbeat” part of its restaurant branding, as “Jollibee is a place of joy across the world.”

“It is lighthearted, fun, and built on the idea of community spirit,” Mr. Tan Untiong said.

The company said: “Jollibee’s new stores in Europe have been designed to adapt to changes brought about by the pandemic by including contactless kiosks for speed and safety, and pick-up settings to make take-outs even more convenient.”

Jollibee UK will also be launching an app, which will allow customers to place advanced orders, as well as cater to delivery and take out orders.

“We are investing in technologies such as a mobile app for click and collect along with in-store contactless kiosk options to bring additional convenience to our customers,” Jollibee Group Market Head for Europe Adam Parkinson said.

Jollibee noted that the brand has sold over five million pieces of Chickenjoy across Europe since it was first served in the region.

JFC shares at the stock market improved by 1.87% or P3.40 on Tuesday to close at P185 apiece. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte