10 fruitful years of Fruitas with 500 stores nationwide
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Fruitas Group aims to mark its 10th anniversary in the local food cart industry by opening its 500th store in the country. Fruitas Group, the leading company in the local food cart industry, could very well be making history in a matter of months. As the company behind such successful brands as Fruitas, Black Pearl, Tea-rrific!, Buko Loco, The Mango Farm, among many others, marks its decade-long reign in the market, Fruitas is gearing up to reach a bigger milestone: that is, opening its 500th store in the country.
If Fruitas Group reaches this milestone, Fruitas is proof that a proudly Filipino-owned company can be regarded as world-class and a leader in the food cart industry.
“This year, we chose not to hold or do something grand to mark our 10th anniversary. We want something that’s sustainable. Dapat may katuturan,” says Lester Yu.
More than achieving this significant record, Lester would like to celebrate Fruitas’ 10th fruitful years in the business by giving back to his employees and to the many customers who have supported the company for years.
“We want, of course, to mark our 10th anniversary by thanking our customers, who have been with us through the years,” he says.
This success, after all, didn’t happen overnight. Lester remembers that when he first started the business at SM Manila 10 years ago, the Fruitas concept was unfamiliar to the masa.
“Back then, our concept of a store selling healthy drinks was new to the masa market,” says Lester. “There were other stores back then, but their target market was high-end, so much different from ours.”
Admittedly, it was difficult to compete with such good brands, which already had a strong foothold in their niche. It didn’t help that the masa carried for a time the misconception that “healthy alternatives” were expensive, either.
But as fate would have it, the business landscape of food carts began to change when Filipinos started becoming more conscious about their lifestyle and “healthy living” suddenly became the norm.
“Maganda ang timing natin. Ten years ago, wala pa ’yong tinatawag natin na mga fun runs,” says Lester, attributing his success to good timing. “In short, when Filipinos became health-conscious and fun runs became an in-thing, we were there already.”
Good timing, as Lester calls it, didn’t just bring in the sales, it also drove franchise inquiries up.
“Yes, at first, when you think about how you can double the number of food carts, it was quite difficult,” says Lester. “But when the numbers start picking up, it became easier for me to imagine the business growing double.”
The business eventually did grow. In fact it grew over tenfold. Fruitas now has 477 “ profitable” stores nationwide, and the figures, according to Lester, won’t stop anytime soon.
“Our target is to open our 500th store in the country before the year ends,” says Lester proudly. “Marami -rami na rin tayo. We’re opening stores in Visayas and Mindanao. We’re also looking into new lines of business.”
Part of that expansion is keeping a high standard of product quality. To make this possible, Lester makes sure that only the freshest ingredients would go into his products.
“In this industry, we have probably the most number of delivery and service vehicles, at least 50 of them,” says Lester. “With a good number of fleet, we are able to deliver fresh fruits in a regular manner, at least every other day, to ensure optimal quality of our ingredients.”
Trainings for Fruitas employees are also held regularly to ensure that the kind of service that they give to customers are on par with that of big commercial enterprises, like McDonald’s.
“We are patterning our employees after the employees of big companies, like McDonald’s,” notes Lester. “Kung kaya nila gawin, hindi rin imposible na gawin sa ating negosyo.”
His employees, indeed, are his biggest investment. That’s why Lester has come up with various ways to help them improve their quality of living. Lester is also proud of the fact that he has given jobs to more than a dozen deaf and mute individuals.
Lester believes that in order to steer a company to the right direction, the ones behind the wheel—the employees of Fruitas—must first know where they’re going. And it is Lester’s job to help them see the future the way he sees it.
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