Jollibee on the cusp of opening first UK branch after three-year wait

Asia’s largest restaurant operator is finally set to open its first site in the UK this month in what may prove to be a watershed moment for its European expansion plans.

Jollibee Foods Corporation, which has grown from a small ice cream parlour in the Philippines to more than 1,300 stores throughout 14 countries, will kick-start its UK growth strategy with a store on London’s Earls Court Road.

The company will officially launch the branch on 19 October, with its senior executive team including CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong and head of international business for Europe, Middle East and Asia, Dennis Flores, flying in for the occasion.

The restaurant will be the second Jollibee opening in Europe. Earlier this year, its arrival in Milan caused such excitement that the company claims fans queued for up to nine hours to be the first to dine there.

The company’s signature menu includes crispy fried chicken, sweet-style spaghetti and burgers.

FEJ first reported on Jollibee’s plans to target the UK market three years ago. While it has taken longer than expected to secure its first site, the chain will no doubt be hoping to quickly build scale.

Jollibee owns brands such as Chowking, Mang Inasal and Greenwich Pizza. Several years ago it paid £220m to acquire a 40% stake in Smashburger, the US-based fast casual restaurant concept.

The company was also reportedly in talks to buy Pret A Manager before the British sandwich chain was taken over by private equity firm JAB Holdings earlier this year.

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