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Jollibee now owns 100% of US hamburger chain

/ 05:40 AM December 15, 2018

Globalizing Filipino fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) has raised its stake in American hamburger chain Smashburger to 100 percent as the group braced for rapid expansion in the United States, one of its single largest overseas markets.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday, JFC announced it had acquired the 15 percent remaining interest in Smashburger held by BurgerMaster LLC for $10 million.

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JFC, now the sole owner of the Smashburger business, also announced plans to inject more capital into this business by converting the $80-million loan of its unit Bee Good! into equity before the end of 2018. This is to “strongly support” the growth of Smashburger.

Thomas Ryan—creator of the Smashburger brand, one of the founders of the Smashburger business and its current chief executive officer—was retained as CEO of the business and even assumed greater responsibility as JFC group’s chief product development adviser effective immediately.

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“We look forward to the development of Smashburger into a very strong brand and business in the United States. It has excellent products created mostly by Tom Ryan. We also look forward to his helping JFC in his role as chief product development adviser make our products even better and more exciting,” JFC chair and founder Tony Tan Caktiong said in a statement.

Ryan is a food scientist by training, with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in flavors and fragrance chemistry from the Michigan State University. He has extensive experience in food product, concept and marketing development in various food and food service companies that included Procter & Gamble, Pillsbury and Pizza Hut. He had worked with McDonalds in various capacities. He joined Quiznos in 2005 and, with partners, founded Smashburger in 2007.

To date, Smashburger has 351 stores, mostly in the United States. It has presence in Canada, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Savador, Kuwait, Panama, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. It accounts for 7 percent of JFC’s consolidated system-wide sales.

“We look forward to replicating in Smashburger the significant brand and business development that JFC achieved in practically all its new and acquired businesses in the Philippines, China, Vietnam and other countries through the introduction of JFC’s business methods,” JFC CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong said.

Including other brands, JFC’s North America business has 435 stores in total, accounting for 12 percent of worldwide system sales.  JFC’s other big overseas markets are China and Vietnam, where it has likewise acquired local brands.

Globally, JFC has 4,457 stores, of which 3,079 are in the Philippines as of end-November. The flagship brand Jollibee has 37 stores in the United States and four in Canada. Red Ribbon has 31 in the United States while Chowking has 15.

Jose Minana, currently JFC’s country head for North America, will assume additional responsibility as president of Smashburger. Among his key objectives will be to introduce JFC’s business management systems into Smashburger and prepare it for strong sustained growth in the United States.

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Prior to heading JFC’s business in North America, Minana was head of Jollibee Philippines, group president for Mang Inasal, Burger King and Jollibee Vietnam and group head of JFC’s network development, among other responsibilities. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from De La Salle University, MBA from the Asian Institute of Management and attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

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TAGS: jollibee, Jollibee Foods Corp., Smashburger
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