‘Working on a brand like Greenwich keeps me young at heart.’
By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, Published
Greenwich does not sound like a local brand, but it is actually a homegrown business under the Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC). Despite the myriad of pizza stores and upstarts, Greenwich stands tall not just in terms of number, but also into the hearts of its customers, cutting across generations.
Albert C. Cuadrante, a brand manager expert who used to work with Jollibee, the flagship restaurant brand of JFC, was promoted as president of Greenwich Business of Jollibee after a successful and fruitful stint as the VP and Marketing Head of Jollibee for over 4 years.
The country’s number one pizza brand underwent changes over the years. Now, it is donning a more dynamic look and a new name. From Greenwich Pizza & Pasta, the brand is now known as Greenwich Pizzeria, reflecting a dynamism and a stronger culture of “barkadahan.”
Greenwich was established in 1971 by the Tueres family. It was named after the hip Greenwich district in New York City, where many of the good and trendy restaurants are. Greenwich was the first brand acquired by JFC back in 1994. Since then, Greenwich has become localized catering to the local taste while keeping the western influence.
Greenwich Pizzeria is one true Filipino pizza chain – a small entrepreneurship that made an extraordinary leap to the big league. What started out as a small over-the-counter pizza store in the Greenhills Commercial Center in 1971, is now the Philippines biggest pizza chain.
The company claims not just the number, but its share of favoritism: “We are not just the biggest. We are the Philippines favorite pizza chain.”
As the Philippines’ favorite pizza chain, Greenwich is committed to developing a strategic delivery system that provides efficient and friendly service, with innovations in technology to ensure that food stays delicious and hot as if it were just pulled out of the oven.
To ensure quality of both products and service, Greenwich has also invested in the continuous training of all delivery personnel. It prides of a courteous delivery service. It claims to be the first pizza chain to use the Heated Thermal Bags that ensure a close simulation of oven-quality pizza and other products, even after transit.
It is also in step with modernity with its online delivery service that enables anyone from any part of the world to have Greenwich treats delivered within Metro Manila in a true Filipino spirit.
While, the pizza and pasta store whips up scrumptious meals, its appeal transcends more than a hearty meal. The store seeks to transform customers’ everyday dining into shared delightful moments with friends by strengthening its marketing spiel as the place where the “barkadas,” peers or clique meet to bond.
Greenwich menu is filled with a wide variety of mouth-watering selections from pizzas, pastas, chicken, rice dishes to desserts that will make any meal a delightful shared experience.
It prides itself for putting only the highest premium on their products. Each one has gone through teams of experts that have been involved in developing the perfect taste that its customers keep coming back to.
At Greenwich, you will find out that the joy does not end with the food they prepare. Greenwich makes it a point to extend this feeling of warmth from the ovens to service, and straight into the hearts of every Filipino.
The company goes beyond the average pizza chain and offer you an enjoyable combination of delicious food, a comfortable ambience and friendly service that have been customize to fit perfectly with their customers’ imagination, kind of adventure and the Filipino value of bonding with friends.
This made Barkada bonding even better than any other delicious offerings as Greenwich goes beyond every pizza box.
To cater to this dynamic and fun crowd, the physical look of Greenwich has also been updated to reflect a more vibrant atmosphere with “Instagrammable” features.
This is to address the rave in the local food scene led by millennials and Generation X who have grown together with the brand. The pizzeria formal reflects the evolution of the brand.
It has wider and open spaces making it more comfortable for friends to linger for a few more hours to bond. It has bold statements that would make it compelling for picture taking for Instagram posting.
The new look has also been matched with the improvement of its pizza and other dishes.
“We improved the crust, the toppings. The store has to match the product. This is what we envision for the Pizzeria, a fitting store for you to experience the product,” says Cuadrante.
Its food offering has also been upgraded with new product introduction keeping its menu up to date. They have new products such as wave potatoes, chicken wings, and more combination meals.
The service is to ensure that they are not just efficient but sincere, as well.
“We always focus on giving you the best value that will surely fill your appetite and your heart. Each member of our staff has been trained to provide the warm, welcoming and helpful treatment that you deserve just like in any groups of friends,” says Cuadrante.
Working as a team, Greenwich staff make sure that each order comes with a side of friendly services to reflect how barkadas treat each other.
The transformation of Greenwich remains consistent with its “barkadahan” or peer or clique marketing spiel that has kept the young crowd with average age of 25-35 years flowing into their stores. They have more spaces for this kind of crowd that they attract.
In addition, the company has also a more active social media presence.
“Working on a brand like Greenwich keeps me young at heart – ‘nakakabata’,” says Cuadrante.
Even as Greenwich promotes the idea of clique or barkada dining in the pizzeria, the company itself is living up to this culture among its people.
“It’s not as formal, yet respectful. People know how to have fun and are very honest with each other, making them open to receiving and giving constructive feedback. We also encourage a healthy level of experimentation to ensure we are a continually evolving brand and organization. Plus, I get to eat pizza and pasta as part of my job,” says Cuadrante, who loves being with the sector close to his heart: Food.
“Since I love to eat and cook, I am naturally attracted to food. What I like about the food business because is that it’s very dynamic,” says Cuadrante, who never really find a dull moment when it comes to food.
From comfort food staples, people have become more open to trying out new flavors and cuisines, which he attributed to the emergence of food parks and local food districts. He noted how people’s tastes and preferences evolve over time.
As more foreign concepts arrive here, Filipinos are exposed to a variety of dishes and ingredients.
“We are also more discriminating now when it comes to quality because there are simply so many choices and restaurants who want to survive have to make sure they keep up,” says Cuadrante.
Some challenges in the local food cuisine include coping with the rising cost of ingredients and raw materials, being able to continually come up with new and exciting products to ensure your brand remains exciting and relevant to its target customers, and maintaining high level of service standards.
All these efforts have made Greenwich reached new heights. It expects a more robust 20 percent growth in sales in 2017 over the R8-billion sales generation in 2016 following the transformation of its about 300 stores nationwide.
The robust growth projection for the 46-year-old homegrown brand is anchored on the company’s efforts to implement major transformation of the brand in terms of its look, food offerings, and heightened social media presence but still holding on to the proven effective campaign of the spirit of “barkadahan” that brought more young crowd to the pizzeria.
The improvement can be seen in a more engaging pizzeria, new products, new experience with the pizzeria window, allowing customers to take a peak on how Greenwich prepares its homemade pizza.
Greenwich posted a 15 percent sales growth in 2016 with only 270 stores. In 2017, the company expects to close to around 300 this year. Of these stores, 60 percent are company owned and the rest are franchise.
“Our expansion continues to be very aggressive and more and more cities are really wanting of our pizza experience and we are gaining popularity in the provinces,” says Cuadrante.
Of the close to 300 outlets, 50 percent have already been renovated with investment of as much as P12 million.
Cuadrante said there are opportunities for expansion overseas but they would rather concentrate first in the Philippines since there are areas where Greenwich does not have presence yet.
There is also a long queue of interested franchise applicants but the priority is the domestic market first.
According to Cuadrante, the franchise fee is only P1 million but the entire package of one outlet could reach P12 million to P15 million depending on the size of the store.
Return on investments average 3-5 years, with ROI on the second year of their operation.
If ever Greenwich is going to expand overseas, Cuadrante said there are low hanging countries that they may consider like Singapore, Brunei and the Middle East.
They may not follow closely with the expansion of Jollibee, the flagship brand of the JFC Group, because there are countries where Pizza has yet to go mainstream. For instance, Jollibee is very successful in Vietnam with 90 stores already, but Vietnam does not yet have a strong pizza market.
Cuadrante, who loves food, can whip up his own pizza, but since Greenwich already makes great pizzas, there’s no need to try and make pizzas by himself.
“I love pizza because it’s such a versatile product. There are endless possibilities when it comes to toppings so it’s hard to get ‘sawa’,” he adds.
His two personal favorites are Greenwich’s Bacon Overload and new Extreme Cheese Overload. Aside from these pizzas, he would recommend Wacky Wings and Potato Waves.
Aside from pizza, Cuadrante loves to cook Spanish dishes.
“I actually find cooking very therapeutic. Since food is a big part of my personal and professional life, I play badminton to help burn all those calories and make space for more,” says Cuadrante, whose favorite past time though is hanging out with his family, who loves binge-watching the latest TV series and taking vacations together.
He balances work and family life. As much as possible, Cuadrante ends his day by 6:00 p.m. so he can join the family for dinner and help out his boys with school work, if needed.
“Wednesday and Friday nights are reserved as date nights with my wife, Joy. We’ve been practicing that even before we got married and is actually something I look forward to every week,” adds Cuadrante, who is usually in the office by 7:00 a.m. although his meetings typically start at 8:00 a.m. yet.
As a manager, Cuadrante refused the spoon-feeding approach, except in very urgent situations. He would rather go for coaching through a process to arrive at a solution that works better. He believes that coaching also increases the capability of those he is working with to make quality and quick decisions in the future.
“I am also a strong advocate of continuous learning for leadership development, so I try to use every opportunity to bring out new insights, in both wins and misses, for future application,” says Cuadrante, who demands results from his staff.
“Once we agree on the goals, strategies and timelines for specific milestones, I usually let my team operate from there. I don’t like being micromanaged so I also do not like micromanaging. As much as possible, I don’t like giving solutions outright to problems or issues that are brought to my attention. Instead, I try to help those who approach me with the thinking process so that the solution can still come from them,” says Cuadrante, who started his career in Procter & Gamble Philippines under Brand Management. From there, he owned a Brand Consulting Firm called Acumen Strategic Consulting, which is still around, while at the same time help grow the family business, which was into the development and supply of institutional packaging solutions.
He also taught Marketing and Advertising Management for 15 years at the Ateneo De Manila University.
The happy employee
Greenwich efforts did not go unnoticed. It has been a recipient of various awards, including the Tambuli Awards and Araw Awards (2009), the Philippine Quill Award of Merit (2010 and 2015) and an Anvil Award of Excellence (2011, 2015, and 2016). Greenwich was also recognized for Marketing Excellence by Superbrands (2004 and 2005), and was named Most Outstanding Pizza Company (2005) in the Global Awards for Marketing Excellence by the Philippine Marketing Practitioners Association, Inc.
Cuadrante, who joined Greenwich in 2013 and is now on his 5th year with the brand, has been responsible for Greenwich unprecedented growth in both sales and profit, driven by strengthening the brand’s pizza and pasta product lines and aggressively expanding and renovating its network of stores using the modern pizzeria design.
This does not happen had it not for the support of Cuadrante’s JFC big bosses, whom he described as “humble.”
“Even with the type of success that they have had (and continue to enjoy) and their level of collective experience, they are always willing and wanting to listen and learn,” says Cuadrante.
“They are very approachable and family-oriented, which is why the spirit and sense of family is very strong in JFC. They are also very passionate about food taste and quality since these form the very foundation of our business.”
This makes him a happier professional manager.
*This article is originally published by and is copied from the story published in the Manila Bulletin newspaper on Jan. 10, 2018, page B-7, and is also available online at https://business.mb.com.ph/2018/01/09/beyond-thepizza-box/.