By Arra B. Francia, Reporter
HOMEGROWN FOOD giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) is teaming up with Chinese-American restaurant operator Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. (Panda) for the introduction of Panda Express restaurants in the country.
In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Thursday, JFC said it forming a 50-50 joint venture (JV) company with Panda with an initial authorized capital stock of $5 million. The companies target to establish five Panda Express restaurants in Metro Manila for the initial phase.
Panda is touted as the largest family-owned and operated Chinese American restaurant group in the United States. From its first restaurant in Pasadena, California in 1973, the company has since expanded to over 2,100 locations across the US, Puerto Rico, Guam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Aruba, Mexico, Canada, Dubai, Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
The company’s stores carry three brands, namely Panda Express, Panda Inn, and Hibachi-San. The menu of Panda Express includes Original Orange chicken, Sweetfire Chicken Breast, Honey Walnut Shrimp, and Shanghai Angus Steak, among others.
JFC Chairman and Founder Tony Tan Caktiong said this partnership with Panda will complement its ongoing portfolio expansion.
“Starting from a single restaurant in a California mall to becoming a restaurant chain of over 2,100 stores, Panda Express is a strong brand with a growing global footprint. Very much in line with JFC’s brand portfolio, it has excellent tasting dishes at reasonable price points. Long-term, Panda Express has a high potential for broad acceptance across the country,” Mr. Tan Caktiong said in a statement.
For his part, Panda Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cherng said the partnership with JFC will help facilitate its entry into the Philippines.
“We look forward to tapping into JFC’s market expertise to grow the Panda Express brand into a household name in the Philippines and, more importantly, actioning our shared value of inspiring people to better their lives,” JFC quoted Mr. Cherng as saying in a statement.
JFC said profits will be shared equally between the two firms, in line with the 50-50 ownership. The JV firm will also have its own management, with JFC to provide support.
Panda Express will add to JFC’s existing portfolio which includes its own Chinese fast food chain Chowking, Jollibee, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal, Burger King, PHO 24, High Lands Coffee, Hard Rock Café, and Smashburger. The company currently operates more than 4,324 stores.
Earlier this month, JFC also announced its $12.4-million investment in Mexican restaurant Tortas Frontera owned by award-winning chef Rick Bayless. They will then put up a Mexican fast-casual restaurant business in the US through JFC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Jollibee Foods Corp. (USA).
JFC’s continued expansion drove system-wide sales 23% higher to P99.91 billion in the first half of 2018. This brought net income attributable to the parent 16% up to P4 billion in the same period.
Shares in JFC dropped 2.7% or P7.20 to close at P259 each at the stock exchange on Thursday.