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Kuya J owner ready for public listing

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THE owner and operator of Kuya J restaurant chain is keen on taking the company public as soon as possible, as it pursues an aggressive expansion program in the country.

Kuya J Holdings Group, Inc. President Winglip K. Chang said the company is currently evaluating whether it will enter the Philippine Stock Exchange through an initial public offering or by way of backdoor listing.

“We have no concrete notion or plans on what we are going to do yet, we have not yet made any decision. But we would like to do it as soon as possible,” Mr. Chang told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s introduction of a new franchising program in Taguig City last week.

Businessman Lowell L. Yu, who chairs the Kuya J group, last year took control of listed dormant firm Pacifica, Inc., which could pave the way for a potential backdoor listing for the restaurant chain. The takeover was executed through the purchase of a 36.52% stake in Pacifica by Mr. Yu’s firm Unido Capital as well as a subsequent tender offer to minority shareholders.

The Kuya J group earlier said it aims to go public once it hits the 100-store mark. To-date, it operates a total of 106 stores nationwide.

Mr. Chang noted that they continue to be on the lookout for more locations to put up Kuya J restaurants. The group targets to have 200 stores by 2019, with 20 to 25 stores set to be opened this year alone.

“We are in a very aggressive expansion mode. So the only hindrance there is really good locations . . . As we grow, the challenge is to find a good location,” Mr. Chang said, adding that they consider a site’s accessibility, traffic figures, and the presence of a catchment area when looking at where to put up a new potential branch.

Kuya J Holdings is also banking on its newly launched franchising program to help boost expansion, where the company can extend up to a 70% loan to franchisees payable by the revenues to be generated from the store they will put up. This will allow franchisees to operate a Kuya J restaurant by shelling out only P4 million out of the supposed P10-15 million investment.

Mr. Chang also said choosing to franchise the brand will help them expand their footprint across the country since locals will have a better feel of the market.

“A lot of franchisees are well-connected sa sariling bayan nila (in their own country). So when you have your own place na malakas (that is strong), a commercial structure and there’s a very good traffic there, it makes it easier for you now to open a business because you have the necessary numbers,” Mr. Chang said.

Aside from the Kuya J brand, the company’s portfolio includes Isla Sugbu, Seafood City, Tsay Cheng Chinese Cuisine, Majestic, and the Heritage Grand Convention Center of Cebu. — Arra B. Francia