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Fruitas banks on consumer familiarity for IPO success

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FRUITAS Holdings, Inc. is unfazed by the number of companies going public at the same time as its initial public offering (IPO), confident that Filipino consumers’ familiarity with its products will translate into IPO success.

Officials of the operator of beverage kiosks such as Buko ni Fruitas, Johnn Lemon, and Black Pearl said the list of IPO hopefuls this year only illustrates the vibrancy of the stock market.

“Ito na ang panahon, ayaw na magpapigil eh. Walang problema na marami kaming kasabay, kasi ibang industriya naman,” Fruitas Founder and Chief Executive Officer Lester C. Yu told reporters in Makati on Tuesday.

The company’s tentative timeline for its IPO’s offer period, set from Nov. 18 to 22, will follow that of Taiwanese firm Cal-Comp Technology (Philippines), Inc.’s P10.67-billion maiden offering that will run from Nov. 4-11.

It will directly coincide with Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc.’s IPO, which hopes to raise up to P83.3 billion.

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“This will encourage more people to look at us. It’s a different industry, for us the connection with the consumers is more direct,” Fruitas Chief Financial Adviser Calvin F. Chua told reporters in the same event.

Fruitas looks to raise up to P1.2 billion from the issuance of up to 602 million shares at up to P1.99 each. The fresh capital will be used to finance its store expansion over the next two to three years.

Mr. Chua said they want to put up 150 to 250 stores annually until 2022, in addition to its current network of 949 stores in the country. They will also add two food parks in Metro Manila and in Luzon, to complement their two existing food parks in Quezon City.

Aside from building more stores, Mr. Yu said they are also ramping up their institutional business. For instance, its roasted pig brand Sabroso Lechon already serves some hotels, while at least 50 Andoks stores and supermarkets now carry their buko juice and calamansi juice brands.

“We continue to look for the same deals,” Mr. Chua said, noting that this will help them bring down operating expenses as opposed to building actual stores.

Fruitas also wants to strengthen its delivery business, with Mr. Yu saying that part of the plans for the IPO is to get up to 80 vehicles for its logistics network, in addition to at least 40 trucks they currently have.

For now, the company offers delivery services for Sabroso Lechon and coconut water brand 8 Coco.

Asked for his outlook on growth, Mr. Chua said the factors that boosted their performance in the past remain.

“All the factors are still there, the growing middle class, rapid urbanization. We’re able to locate in locations with foot traffic like terminals, hospitals, schools. The economy is really vibrant,” Mr. Chua said. — Arra B. Francia

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