MILKIN Corp., operator of the Fiorgelato and Fior Café brands of Italian-style ice cream and cafes, is setting its sights on the regional market next year in time for the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Milkin president and chief executive officer Ricardo Cuna told The Manila Times that the company will focus its expansion on “going global” particularly since the Asean Economic Community (AEC) will begin implementation next year.
“Part of the 25-year program is to establish the company, have a franchising program, and before we reach the 25th year starting 2015, we will start going global. 2015 is the globalization year of Fiorgelato,” Cuna said.
“If the foreign companies are capturing us by entering the Philippine market, then we should do the same and capture them as well,” he added, citing the rising competition in the region due to the upcoming integration.
Established 22 years ago, Milkin is projecting a modest presence in the Asean on its 25th anniversary in 2017, which will spotlight its high-end market niche.
“We’ll stick to our [high end to middle market]niche as we enter the Asean market. As we go on, we’ll see if localization or any developments in the brand will be made in accordance with the markets across the region,” Cuna said.
Cuna also said Milkin is currently in discussion with six “potential franchisees” all over the region, of which up to three of which may be completed next year.
This is Fiorgelato’s first step in expanding overseas, capitalizing on the integration that will start next year.
The company’s primary market focus will be those countries with the same culture and market as the Philippines, Cuna said. He said Fiorgelato’s strong consumer patrons in the country are in the A, B and C markets due to the growing middle class segment.
Locally, Milkin is looking to intensify its brands as it programs to open 24 branches for both Fiorgelato and Fior Cafe yearly starting in 2015, either company-owned or franchises.
Cuna, in all of his ice cream-related consumer brands, is keen on franchising to be able to grow the business faster, citing that the method is effective in the Philippines.
“Through franchising, you can expand faster. At the same time, you’ll be able to give aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to grow their business. Franchising is another way of getting to a business. It’s a proven system for brand recall, and there is an element of success in the industry,” Cuna said.
To date, Milkin already has 65 Fiorgelato outlets nationwide, 40 of which are franchised and 25 are company-owned.
Aside from Milkin, Cuna owns two more consumer-related and franchise-oriented companies—ACG Philippines and Trio Mix Foods— which are mostly involved in the manufacturing, processing and distribution of low-end to specialty ice cream and gelato brands. KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO