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KFC rival Jollibee expands into the UK market

Key Points
  • Filipino fast-food conglomerate will open its flagship U.K. store in October.
  • The first U.K. Jollibee will be in Earl’s Court, London.
  • The move is the latest in Jollibee’s “aggressive” international expansion plan.
Jollibee CEO: We are about to enter the UK market

Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee is set to open its first U.K. store this month in London's Earl's Court.

Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), which has a market capitalization of around $5 billion, owns 14 brands with 4,300 restaurants around the world. Its Jollibee brand has over 1,300 locations and is the largest fast-food chain in the Philippines, operating a domestic network of over 1,000 stores.

The corporation has also embarked on a self-confessed "aggressive" international expansion strategy that has resulted in operations in the U.S., Vietnam, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei.

Ernesto Tanmantiong, Jollibee's CEO, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" Thursday that the company had built on its previous international experience to draw up a strategy for its U.K. venture.

"We've learned from the past, and what we do now is build the brand better and build the international team," he said. "In the past we have just sent the Filipino team, but now we have a dedicated international team and they're quite competent in international markets. We also make sure that the supply chain is properly established."


Tanmantiong noted that Jollibee's challenge in new markets wasn't adapting the product base to suit market tastes — it was finding the right location.

"We usually look at where the Filipinos are — and Earl's Court is a highly populated area for Filipinos," he said. "So we start from there and then work on marketing to cross over into the mainstream market."

He added that Jollibee's flagship product, fried chicken called "Chickenjoy," was "universally accepted" in international markets.

Customers dine inside a Jollibee restaurant on April 11, 2018 in Milan, Italy. Jollibee Food Corporation, a Filipino chain of fast food restaurants and the largest Asian food services company, has chosen Milan, home of the biggest Filipino community in Europe, to open its first European branch.
Emanuele Cremaschi / Getty Images

The company was also prepared for the U.K.'s growing demand for food delivery services due to its experience in the Chinese market, Tanmantiong told CNBC.

"We've experienced the most change in China, where there are three big delivery platforms," he said. "This has affected how the food industry is run — almost 50 percent of the sales are now shifting to delivery, as well as eWallet and Alipay. It's challenging (but) you just need to adapt to the changing dynamics of the market."

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Jollibee Foods Corporation owns 14 brands with 4,300 restaurants around the world.