Month: September 2017

Celebrating Shakey’s 200th store milestone

MAGIC, music, cheerdancing, and fun marked the grand opening of the 200th Shakey’s restaurant at Paseo de Magallanes in Makati City.

The new restaurant features new elements that will soon be fixtures in all Shakey’s restaurants across the country, including spacious dining halls, a Fun Zone, a piano that takes back to the early years of Shakey’s where music identified with the brand; and a dessert bar.

The grand opening was highlighted by the ceremonial cutting of a giant Shakey’s pizza, by Century Pacific Group founder Ricardo Po, Sr., Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc. (SPAVI) vice chair Ricardo Po, and president and CEO Vicente L. Gregorio with Shakey’s endorser Luis Manzano.

“This store is a product of hard work and many hours thinking about how we can make the Shakey’s experience even more wow,” said Gregorio. “We wanted this branch to standout without losing the Shakey’s trademark design.”

The newest Paseo de Magallanes branch definitely achieved the goal. New elements that are never seen before in other stores were added to wow customers even more. The piano was there, as well as an array of cakes in the dessert bar to complete the menu. The staff had new, distinct uniforms to signify Shakey’s commitment to innovation.

With the opening of the Shakey’s 200th store, diners are guaranteed their wow moments as they enjoy great times and create great memories.

*This article is copied from Malaya Business Insight as published in the newspaper, Sept. 28, page B7 and is available online at

Max’s to open first branch in Washington state by next year

by BusinessWorld, September 27, 2017

MAX’S Group, Inc. (MGI) is ramping up its overseas expansion with the signing of its sixth development agreement for 2017, which will see the opening of the first Max’s Restaurant in Washington state by next year.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, MGI said it has inked a deal with JS Restaurant LLC to open a Max’s Restaurant in Tukwila, a suburb south of Seattle in Washington.

“We are witnessing the fastest rate of expansion in North America. For this year alone, we opened three new Max’s Restaurants across New Jersey, Calgary, and San Diego. Moreover, we have another two stores in the pipeline for 2018 to be located in Winnipeg and Tukwila,” MGI Chief Executive Officer for International operations Peter H. King said in a statement.

MGI last week signed a deal with Canada’s Alibin Group, Inc. for the establishment of the first Max’s Restaurant in Winnipeg, Canada. This adds to the 27 Max’s franchised outlets abroad.

Established in 2012, JS Restaurant LLC is a private firm in Washington that offers medical services. MGI noted that owners of the company, who have been residing in Tukwila for two decades now, have established connections and alliances in the area that will help grow the branch.

“We are thankful to have been entrusted with a well-loved Filipino brand. We are determined to extend the Max’s Restaurant tradition of excellence in food quality and heartwarming service to our customers in Tukwila,” JS Restaurant Managing Director Joselito Santos said in a statement.

With its sizeable Filipino community, Tukwila already has branches of Jollibee and Chowking, as well as Seafood City, a supermarket selling Filipino and Asian products.

For his part, MGI President and Chief Executive Officer Robert F. Trota said the partnership gives them another chance to share the Max’s brand to Filipinos residing in the area.

“This is another exciting moment for us to provide our countrymen based in the United States a genuine taste of home. We are grateful to be in partnership with JS Restaurant LLC to serve our best-in-class products to the community of Tukwila,” Mr. Trota said.

Earlier this year, MGI said it has allotted P600 million to P700 million to roll out 60 to 70 new stores for 2017, in an effort to hit the 1000-store mark by 2020.

MGI recorded a 12% increase in its attributable profit for the first half of 2017 to P329 million, as store expansions pushed revenues 11% higher to P6.05 billion during the period.

Shares in MGI fell 24 centavos or 1.25% to P19 apiece at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday. — Arra B. Francia

*This article is copied from BusinessWorld as published in the newspaper, Sept. 27, page S1/3. This is also available online at

The fruits of his labor

by BusinessWorld, September 26, 2017

Lester Yu
Founder and CEO
Fruitas Group of Companies

The food industry thrives in a fast-paced environment where survival can be fierce.

Players need to continuously think of new ideas and concepts.

Lester Yu, 42, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Fruitas Group of Companies, has taken this to heart.

In just 15 years, he has introduced 18 brands to Filipino consumers.

With a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from De La Salle University and University of the Philippines, respectively, Mr. Yu started his career in banking.

He later tried several businesses such as jewelry, gold trading and cellphone load cards.

He eventually ventured into food and beverages. Drinking fresh orange juice every morning, Mr. Yu thought of a potential market for affordable fresh fruit juices. At the time, fresh fruit drinks were costly and usually available only in hotels and high-end restaurants. This prompted Mr. Yu to retail affordable fresh fruit shakes.

Knowing that his beverage competitors were mostly concentrated in high-end locations like the Makati and Ortigas business districts, Mr. Yu opened his first food cart kiosk in the city of Manila, which proved to be a strategic location with good foot traffic.

He used his savings to start the business. Unable to afford staff, he had to run the business alone – from driving the trucks to delivering fruits, managing the outlet and working as a store service crew.

His business picked up because Filipinos were beginning to get into fitness and healthy living, particularly the growing popularity of running.

Mr. Yu established the company in 2002. His vision is for the company to become a conglomerate. He has explored other food and beverage products because he knows that fruit shakes alone will not be enough for the business to expand.

Mr. Yu prefers his business to be homegrown. Instead of anchoring its growth on franchising, he branched out to various food categories and continues setting up of commissaries, building up the portfolio of brands being offered by the Fruitas Group.

Today, the Fruitas Group has over 850 stores nationwide, 80% of which are company-owned. From its humble beginnings as a one-man kiosk, the Fruitas Group now has 2,000 employees who retail 18 brands under three categories, namely: the leaders (including Fruitas, Buko ni Fruitas, Juice Avenue, Buko Loco, Jamaican Pattie and Johnn Lemon), the followers (like Black Pearl, Friends Fries and Fancie Frozen Yogurt) and the niche (La Petite Parisienne).

Mr. Yu gave his take on the company’s growth: “We want to grow big to have power – the power to help people, the power to help our country.”

This desire to help can be gleamed from the company’s hiring practice — personnel include senior citizens and the hearing-impaired.

The company also works exclusively with local traders and suppliers for their ingredients, in support of local farmers.

As part of his company’s participation in the community, Mr. Yu has put up CCTVs all over his barangay in Quezon City, where he continuously conducts feeding programs. He is also an advocate of education, offering scholarships under the “Touched by Fruitas” program.

When the firm was growing, it initially encountered some people-related challenges. He realized how important it was to hire good staff, manage them effectively and inspire them to develop their potential.

For the company to realize its vision to be a conglomerate, Mr. Yu has invested in a research and development team to focus on innovations such as developing variants of one product.

By balancing flexibility, entrepreneurship and fiscal discipline, Mr. Yu is confident that the Fruitas Group of Companies will continue to forge ahead against competitors. Furthermore, Mr. Yu believes that one thing that helps the company innovate is the fact it has its own commissaries.

In 2015, Mr. Yu incorporated The Lush Co. as the primary holder of Buko Ni Fruitas, Inc.; Fruitas Group, Inc. and Negril Trading, among others. Mr. Yu shared that an initial public offering is being planned for early 2018. He will also be exploring international franchising. To cater to all age groups, he will also be opening a food park targeting millennials.

Mr. Yu reminds aspiring entrepreneurs that entering a business should be a primary focus, not an alternative. Moreover, success does not happen overnight – it entails sacrifice, hard work and discipline, which are fundamental values that he acquired from his parents.

The official airline of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2017 is Philippine Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Banquet Sponsors are Bench; Bounty Fresh Food, Inc.; CDO Foodsphere; Fiori Di Marghi; Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.; Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.; Intermed Marketing Phils., Inc.; Jollibee Foods Corp.; LBC; SteelAsia and Universal Harvester, Inc.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2017 will be named in an Oct. 18 awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La hotel. The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is produced globally by Ernst & Young.


*This article is copied from BusinessWorld as published in the newspaper, page S1/1 and page S1/3. This article is also available online at

Fried chicken to wraps: Jollibee eyes deals to grow

By: BusinessWorld, September 26, 2017

MANILA/SINGAPORE — Filipino billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong, who has built Jollibee Foods Corp. into a near-4,000 store purveyor of sweet-style spaghetti, burgers and fried chicken, is looking to buy existing brands in mature markets to help fuel future growth.

Dominant at home, where Jollibee has 1,000 eponymous stores welcoming diners with its smiling bee logo, Mr. Tan now wants to reshape the $5-billion group as a global fastfood company, bankers and fund managers say.

Primary targets include the United States and China, where it already has joint ventures, including Dunkin’ Donuts.

Mr. Tan, 64, said at a company event in July that half of Jollibee’s total sales would come from overseas stores in the next five years. Currently, foreign stores including joint ventures account for 30% of sales.

This week, people familiar with the matter said Jollibee was considering bidding for Pret A Manger, a UK-based chain selling organic coffee and wholesome sandwiches to office workers. It is still working out a valuation and has not yet decided to bid, the people said.

“Jollibee has to keep chasing growth. They own pretty much every large chain in their home market,” said a regional banker who has dealt with the company. “They are definitely not shy when it comes to looking at mature markets.”

Ysmael Baysa, Jollibee’s chief finance officer, told Reuters this week that buying new businesses “has always been part of our growth strategy.”

Mr. Tan started out with two ice cream parlors in the 1970s, and expanded Jollibee rapidly into a fast food chain dubbed “the McDonald’s of the Philippines.” Forbes ranks him as the country’s eighth-wealthiest man.

“They see where they could utilise the knowledge and synergies they have,” said Robert Ramos at Unionbank, who helps manage $795 million in funds and holds Jollibee stock. “They are increasing the revenue stream beyond the businesses they have now… They are choosing businesses in line with their core competence.”

As discretionary incomes have grown in Asia, the region has become the second-largest fast food market globally after North America.

Jollibee has created new domestic brands and has tie-ups with foreign chains. It bought a stake in Highlands Coffee, which outsells Starbucks in Vietnam, and opened its own outlets in Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Jollibee’s interest in Pret A Manger — which owner Bridgepoint is said to be preparing for a US listing this year — comes just two years after Mr. Tan paid around $100 million for a 40% stake in US-based chain Smashburger, his biggest overseas deal to date.

“If Jollibee wanted to do a $1-billion acquisition, it will have access to capital. It’s very liquid whether overseas or onshore. Jollibee is a premium credit,” said a person close to the company, who was not authorised to speak to the media and asked not to be named.

“Jollibee is very clear where they would like to grow: the Philippines, China and the US.”

In China, the company operates about 400 stores of various brands, including joint ventures.

While Jollibee’s original menu is a hit at home and among the diaspora of millions of Filipinos working overseas, it’s a challenge to broaden its appeal to international diners — hence the drive to acquire global brands.

Jollibee’s revenue has more than tripled over the past decade to P113.9 billion ($2.2 billion), its net income has jumped to P6.16 billion, powered by strong consumer spending in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and its shares trade at around P242 each, up from P51.50 a decade ago.

Other Philippine companies, too, have used their plentiful cash and access to bank credit to make overseas deals, such as Universal Robina Corp.’s acquisition of Snackbrands Australia for $462 million last year, and Alliance Global Group’s earlier $291 million buy of Bodegas Fundador from Beam Suntory. — Reuters


*This article is a re-post from the published article of BusinessWorld (Sept. 26, S1/2) and is available online at

TGI Fridays goes fresh with refined new menu

By: Krixia Subingsubing – @inquirerdotnet / / 05:00 AM September 24, 2017

Perhaps the greatest challenge to creating comfort food is capturing the homey, sentimental impressions it leaves in the stomach while also arousing the inner gourmet. But the trick, says Bistro Group corporate chef Josh Boutwood, isn’t always to “go crazy”—sometimes, it simply means refining the menu’s core palate with new flavors and influences.

It’s the same secret behind TGI Fridays’ new “Fresh from the Chef” menu, which boasts of 19 new premium American-style dishes in its trademark belly-busting portions. No dish is unfamiliar or brazenly peculiar, and yet all offer a novel experience for the taste buds: from golden-brown potato chips lavished with warm queso sauce and chili beef, to wood-smoked, marinated chipotle cutlet chicken served with three-cheese penne.

Chefs Boutwood and Greg Natividad, executive chef for TGI Fridays Philippines, are the hands behind this well-greased menu, recently launched at TGI Fridays Glorietta 3. Though the menu itself took only three days to materialize, they say, the ideas have always been stewing and stirring in their minds.

TGI Fridays is well-known for its array of scrumptious comfort food and refreshing booze, set against the background of comfy banquette booths, red-and-white motif and eclectic wall decor. A force in the Philippine casual dining sector for over two decades now, the restaurant has always understood its appeal—its strong core menu and American identity—to its patrons, and so it made sure that “Fresh from the Chef” hewed close to Fridays’ brand as well.

Smokehouse Brisket

“It’s more of keeping it within that same family dining sphere and dating style, flavor-wise,” Boutwood says. “The palate and flavor [can be described as] nothing too strong, nothing too spicy, nothing too sweet—just there within the Fridays spectrum.”

Regardless, these new additions to the menu promise to shake up the usual Fridays fare of burgers, potato fries and ribs. While staying true to American-style comfort food, “Fresh from the Chef” is infused with multiple influences from other cultures, crafted such that it feels right in place with the usual TGI Fridays dishes.

Take for example the Montreal Poutine, one of Friday’s three new appetizers, which was inspired by the Canadian junk food classic. It’s a heart-stopper on a fry basket, thanks to its artery-clogging combo of potato chips (or fries), topped with warm brown gravy, cheese and slow-cooked brisket.

The Montreal is Chef Boutwood’s favorite. “When you’re cooking and you have to taste so much food, when you want to eat for your pleasure, you want to go into something more comforting,” he says.

Meanwhile, health-conscious foodies can still be indulgent with Fridays’ new salads: Garden Lychee, Oriental Sesame and Honey Bleu, all made with fresh greens and fruits.

Chicken sandwich lovers will also find home in the Vietnamese-inspired Chicken Banh Mi sandwich. Grilled cilantro-marinated chicken is made more delish by the contrasting flavors of sweet hoisin sauce and tangy pickled vegetables, all sandwiched in between toasted baguettes.

Pizza, an all-time favorite comfort food, gets a twist as Fridays introduces flatbreads into its menu for the first time. Its Pepperoni Crisps and Four-Cheese Garlic are musts, if only for the love of crispy shoestring potatoes and the sharp, homely taste of cheese.

For pizza lovers, TGIF introduces flatbreads for the first time, one of which is the must-try Four-Cheese Garlic.

Par for the course are the entrees, as Fridays introduces five new wood-smoked recipes. Chef Natividad swears by the Miso-Glazed Tuna, made of melt-in-your-mouth tuna belly, blanketed by red miso glaze and furikake. “There’s a lot of fat in that tuna belly,” Natividad ribs.

And that is, in itself, a Fridays signature: food in sinfully succulent portions.


*This article is copied from and published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer in SUPER, page D3, Sept. 24-30 Issue and can be found online at


Phoenix enters Singapore fuel market

By JORDEENE SHEEX LAGARE on September 25, 2017

LISTED Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc.’s board of directors has approved the establishment of a trading company in Singapore to market and trade its fuel products.

The oil company informed the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) last Friday that the Singapore trading company will be set up “for the primary purpose of facilitating and negotiating the supply and trading of the company’s fuel products and secondly, to engage in the trading business in Singapore for purposes of eventually serving other third parties and customers.”

Phoenix said its board also approved the appropriation of P510 million for the establishment and operation of the Singapore-based trading company.

Phoenix Petroleum Chief Operating Officer Henry Albert Fadullon said last week that the company is keen on expanding its portfolio not just in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business but also in other facets of their enterprise.

“I think we’ve always been vocal about our aspirations. We want to be a credible and a preferred alternative to the majors,” Fadullon added.

The Davao-based company secured regulatory approval in August for the acquisition of Petronas Energy Philippines, Inc. (PEPI) and Duta Inc. from PDB (Netherlands) B.V. Duta holds various parcels of land used in relation to PEPI’s operations.

Phoenix markets refined petroleum products and operates gas stations, oil depots, storage facilities and allied services. It currently has 518 retail stations throughout the country. It reported net income of P610 million in the first six months of this year, up 35 percent from the same period last year.

Shares of Phoenix Petroleum ended on Friday at P12.44 apiece.

*This article is copied from The Manila Times, published on September 25 newspaper, page B3 and can be found online at

Fruitas gets Asean recognition

posted September 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm by Manila Standard Business

Several Philippine brands continue to demonstrate exceptional success anchored on their contribution to the economic and socio-cultural development of the region—which is what the Asean Business Awards aims to do.

The Asean Business Awards serves as a platform for brands and businesses that display potential of becoming global economic players in their different industries, and included among the esteemed list of finalists for this prestigious recognition is Fruitas Group Inc.

Fruitas Group Inc. was recognized for two categories—SME Employment Excellence and SME Innovation Excellence. As a national finalist for the employment category, the company was recognized for creating a stimulating and supportive workplace, also getting nods for its inclusive employment with deaf and mute persons being hired as well to be front-liners.

As the Asean regional finalist for the innovation category, the leading group in the food cart industry in the country was acknowledged for its constant introduction of new brands and products that have grown to be loved by Filipinos.

“The company is proud to be recognized, especially on the 50th year of the Asean, and the 10th of the Asean Business Awards. This is both an inspiration and a challenge for us to sustain the momentum of innovating and introducing new products and brands, and being a people-centric organization,” says Lester Yu, founder and chief executive of Fruitas Group Inc.

From a single food stall in 2002, Fruitas Group Inc. is now recognized for introducing original food and beverage concepts catering to the demands of the Filipinos, and innovative brands that have become staples in commercial institutions and establishments across the country.

“The Asean Business Awards honors influential companies and brands that are transforming the way industries are doing business by being an example. We are honored to have been given the opportunity to showcase our accomplishments and how these have impacted our growth in this category,” says Yu.

*This article is copied/re-posted from Manila Standard as published in the newspaper on September 24, page B1 and can be found online at

Jollibee sets ‘chicken bucket’ for mangrove propagules in Aklan

By Jun Aguirre – September 24, 2017 | BusinessMirror

KALIBO, Aklan—The Jollibee Foods Corp. will officially launch its “Chicken Joy” bucket program in exchange for mangrove propagules.

In a news forum here, Jen Orven Ariel Zaragoza, Trade Marketing Officer of the Jollibee Foods Corp. Visayas, said each bucket of Chicken Joy sold to the costumers in their four Kalibo branches will help purchase mangrove propagules.

“In 2014 a store in Kalibo started to plant mangroves at the Allen Salas Quimpo Bakhawan Ecological Park. After this, it started to grow, encouraging other volunteer groups to join our tree-planting activity. We are going a notch higher this year by involving our consumers,” he added.

The four Jollibee Foods Corp. branches involved in the said activity were the Citymall Branch-Kalibo, Gaisano Branch-Kalibo, the Jollibee Foods Plaza and the Jollibee Foods Branch at the back of Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital.

Zaragosa said “the bucket for propagule program” will start on October 1 and will end on November 30.

“When one consumer buys a bucket of Chicken Joy from any of our four Kalibo branches, he will be given a sticker to place his name. He will then stick it on a signboard dedicated to the ASQ Bakhawan Eco-Park,” he added.

After November 30 Jollibee will be scheduling another tree-planting activity under the program.

Medalyn Cuadra of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources said Jollibee Foods Corp. has coordinated with their office and the Kalibo Save the Mangrove as partners.

The company will be buying the mangrove propagules from the DENR at P1.50 each.

“On September 30, Jollibee together with some volunteer groups will plant 1,000 mangrove propagules to our sprawling 220-hectare plantation. It will be the official launch of Jolibee’s Chicken Joy bucket for propagules,” Cuadra said.

*This article is copied from BusinessMirror as published in the newspaper on Sept. 25, page B5 and can be found online at

Fiorgelato gears up for global expansion

By Jennylei Caberte (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 25, 2017 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Twenty-five years is a milestone for any company and popular homegrown brand Fiorgelato is celebrating it by going global, a long-term strategy for the next 25 years to come. The man behind Milkin’ Corp., Ricardo “Richie” Z. Cuna, continues to lead the company’s charge toward global expansion.

Everything that Milkin Corp. has achieved is a result of the 25-year plan that Cuna has set in motion when he left a lucrative job as a banker to put up his company more than two decades ago. He worked tirelessly, even neglecting his health, just to make Fiorgelato a byword among Filipinos.

“Milkin Corp. would not have reached this milestone if not for the effort of the many men and women who have worked with me through the years to ensure the success of the company,” Cuna said.

The first Filipino gelato chef made everything look easy but the past 25 years was not just a walk in the park for him. Filipinos were completely unaware of gelato at the time he rolled out Fiorgelato. He also had to contend with challenges such as the brownouts and the Asian financial crisis.

But he found a way to address all these problems. So successful is the company that Cuna himself has lost count of the exact number of stores bearing the Fiorgelato name that have been put up in a quarter of a century of Milkin Corp.’s existence.

His hard work and dedication had almost cost him his life when he suffered a heart attack two years ago. Despite this, he is not slowing down and remains focused in bringing Fiorgelato outside the country – through Fiorgelato International.

To cap off the 25-year plan, Milkin’ Corp. launched its gelato ice cream brand Fiorgelato International under Milkin’ International Ltd, with its office in Hong Kong during its 25th anniversary and his birthday celebration on September 14 at the Grand Ballroom of Manila Hotel.

“For the next 25 years, we will strengthen and maximize whatever we have in Fiorgelato. The next frontier for Milkin Corp. is the international market, through Fiorgelato International” Cuna stressed. “2017 is the globalization year of Fiorgelato,” Cuna said.

Milkin’ Corp. later incorporated Fior Café with Fiorgelato, which has that novel concept of an original Italian gelateria which serves both gelato and freshly brewed coffee mixes together.

An academic and athletic scholar who graduated with Bachelor of Science and Commerce in Management and Marketing from San Beda College, Mendiola, Manila, and Business Administration from the Asian Institute of Management, Cuna is also a business developer and a franchise consultant, having studied Mini Masters in Franchise Development in Southeastern University in Florida, USA.

As it embarks on its global expansion, the company has thoroughly analyzed and studied the feasibility of Fiorgelato’s globalization. Coupled with Milkin Corp.’s international experience, Cuna said the opportunities abroad were simply too good to pass up.

“We are very happy because we are able to hit our targets. Milkin’ Corp. may have encountered challenges in the past 20 years but we were not distracted from our mission and vision,” he said.

Cuna shared franchising has been instrumental in growing his business. He reaches out to other fellow franchisers and aspiring entrepreneurs through his membership in various franchising organizations so he could help others achieve the kind of success he now enjoys.

“I want other franchisers to succeed. Of course, more franchisers and new business enterprises would also mean more jobs for Filipinos,” he explained.

“The next 25 years will surely be exciting not only for Fiorgelato but for the Philippines as well because another homegrown company – the Fiorgelato International – will conquer the world,” Cuna said.

*This article is copied from The Philippine Star as published in the newspaper on September 25, 2017, page B6 and can be found online at

Jollibee heads west

Jollibee Foods Corp. CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong (second from Jollibee mascot) and vice president for international operations Dennis Flores (right) thank British Ambassador Daniel Pruce (beside mascot) and Mike Moon, British embassy director of trade and investment, for their support in the brand’s plans to open for business in the United Kingdom.

*This article is copied from The Philippine Star as published in the newspaper, Sept. 25, 2017, page A1