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BIZ BUZZ: The potato problem

/ 05:22 AM June 17, 2022

McDonald’s Philippines announced in late April that it would only be serving regular fries in the meantime due to the global logistics crisis. As expected, those who like ordering in large sizes were dismayed.

Kevin Tan, Chief Executive Officer at Alliance Global Inc. (AGI), said during a stockholders’ meeting on Thursday that the beloved fast-food chain was still “managing the supply of this potato as it is experiencing freight problems due to the global freight crisis.”

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“We are implementing measures to be able to continue serving McDonald’s world-famous fries to every Filipino every day,” he assured.

AGI is the parent firm of Golden Arches Development Corporation (GADC) or McDonald’s Philippines, a strategic partnership between Alliance Global Group, Inc. (AGI) and the George Yang Group. The group holds the exclusive franchise to operate the McDonald’s brand in the Philippines.

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The business sector, including restaurants, has been reeling from the impact of the freight crisis for quite some time now. It was triggered by lack of vessels due to cargo container imbalances amid the uneven pacing in the reopening of the borders.

The Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines, unfortunately, sees this situation continuing until next year due to pandemic-induced disruptions. Adding fuel to the fire is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which made petroleum more expensive, cutting a deeper hole in the enterprises’ pockets.

In the first quarter, Golden Arches saw its net profit soar by 268 percent to P255 million while core revenues improved by 27 percent to P7.2 billion with the easing of mobility restrictions. Systemwide store sales were up 29 percent for the period, driven by dine-in services, birthday parties and other group events.

—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad

PH unicorn goes to UK

As soon as borders around the world started reopening after the pandemic lockdowns, Martha Sazon, CEO of pioneering Philippine unicorn GCash, saw an influx of invitations to speak at fintech forums abroad.

Sazon is now in UK for the London Tech Week 2022, Europe’s largest tech festival. GCash was the only Filipino fintech invited and Sazon spoke at the keenly-awaited “Fintech in Asia-Pacific” panel on Wednesday.

The GCash chief took the opportunity to share key market insights. So what about the e-wallet is she most proud of to highlight to the audience?

GForest was a key feature that she highlighted.

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“Our form of rewards in GCash allows people to plant virtual trees that will be planted in real life. So far, we have 10 million users inside our app and we’ve planted 1 million trees. That’s equivalent to 21 billion carbon emissions saved or 35 trips around the world. So we’re quite proud of that.”

Speaking about regional opportunities, she noted that 60 percent of the 110-million populace is unbanked, and only 2 percent have credit cards.

“But we have 60 million subscribers. So technology companies are the ones that are able to help the underserved. Southeast Asia is a very welcoming market and consumers, businesses and regulators alike are all open to disruption by new fintech solutions.

“Our belief is that there is no silver bullet to financial inclusion and no one company can achieve that. We believe more in collaboration versus competition, which is why we work with lots of different banks and include them inside our app,” she added.

This trip is also seen as an opportunity for GCash to explore collaboration opportunities with European fintechs.

“We are looking for AI (artificial intelligence) companies and data analytics companies to help us improve our in-house credit scoring system, GScore, which is currently the biggest, the largest and most sophisticated in the Philippines,” she said.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Hints on next DA chief

Agriculture Secretary William Dar hinted the next secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) might be a “he” but did not elaborate whether it’s him all along or somebody else would be replacing him.

“And in all possibility it is a he, I wish the rumors were more inclusive,” said Dar in a speech read by Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian during the agency’s two-day national management committee meeting.

In the middle of the message, Sebastian interjected that Dar predicted or learned from the rumor mill that the next DA chief might be a male. “I hope the next secretary will be one of the DA staff wearing barong now, ready to assume the job.”

“The secretary assumed his successor is a male. It could be a female. Right, Usec. Kristine Evangelista?” Sebastian said. “Somebody told the secretary it would be a he. Won’t there be a she? He only heard the next DA secretary is a he.”

A vocal supporter of Marcos Jr., Dar has repeatedly expressed his willingness to assume the highest post at the DA again, especially under the administration of his fellow Ilocano, if given the opportunity.

The campaign promise of Marcos Jr. was to lower the price of rice to about P20 per kilo, an “aspiration” he wants to fulfill during his term. The DA chief earlier said this could be done but not soon enough as the cost of producing the staple remained high.

—Jordeene B. Lagare
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TAGS: Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Biz Buzz, Department of Agriculture, Martha Sazon, McDonalds Philippines
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