UNFAZED by the “current trouble” in Marawi City, listed pizza chain Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures, Inc. is setting aside almost P500-million for the second half of 2017 for its expansion in the southern Philippines and in “untapped territories” in the Middle East, an official said on Thursday.
“We think there’s a lot of runway and opportunity in Visayas and Mindanao regions. If you look at the data, I think altogether, we only had 16 stores in the VisMin out of the total 180,” Shakey’s Chief Executive Officer Vicente Gregorio told reporters following the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in Pasig City on Thursday.
Six out of the 20 stores to be built will be in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, said Gregorio.
“Despite the current trouble in Marawi, we think there are a lot of places there in the Visayas and Mindanao like Roxas, Aklan to name a few that could be ready for Shakey’s and we think that kind of expansion will be very good for the company,” he said.
Funds for the construction will be internally-generated.
Likewise, Gregorio said the company was considering more expansion in untapped territories in the Middle East.
“For the longest time, a lot of the companies in the region have been inquiring with us in the past of wanting to bring Shakey’s there but before 2014, we didn’t have the right, so it wasn’t ours. Almost every year, we would refer a lot of companies to the US but when we were able to strike the deal and acquire the right to develop Shakey’s in the Middle East. We knew there was a lot of opportunities,” Gregorio said.
“The Middle East is prime because not only does it have a huge [number of]Filipino OFWs and expats working in the region, we firmly believe that the Shakey’s product and concept are not just relevant to the local Filipino overseas workers and employees but also to the local population–Shakey’s being western in concept so it made Middle East the target for our expansion internationally,” he added.
“Already, we have a total of 20 commitments just from the two markets—Kuwait and Dubai and we think there’s a lot more countries in the Middle East region and Asia that we’re currently—talks are ongoing, but we also have to be very prudent, very careful, making sure that our international expansion is done and executed right.”
Shakey’s announced it has inked a joint venture agreement with two foreign firms for the construction of 10 branches in Kuwait, and another 10 in Dubai.
Apart from the Middle East, Gregorio said the pizza chain was in talks with firms based in Indonesia, Myanmar, New Zealand, and Australia, after getting robust invitations from firms in these countries.
“Our international team continues to be entertaining a lot of inquiries. Thank God, we have not been short in inquiries but at this stage, we’re just going to have to focus on these first and we will definitely update the public as long as we get something concrete,” he said.
While several uncertainties continue to challenge Shakey’s, Gregorio said that the company was offsetting this by trying to be more efficient.
“Peso continues to weaken. Several uncertainties going on. We have increased competition also with cost pressures up, so we’re just preparing for the worst case,” Gregorio said.
“But trying to be more efficient. Already, we produced some of the healthiest margins and numbers but we believe there’s still room to be more efficient. The management team is focusing on that so we believe this would be a good way to offset some of the cost pressures that are coming down,” he added.
Shakey’s is recognized globally as the original pizza franchise. In 1975 it opened its first outlet in the Philippines, where it claims to maintain market leadership in both the full service and pizza chain categories. ANGELICA BALLESTEROS