BIZ BUZZ: More investments from Japan

A pipeline of investments from the land of the rising sun is on the horizon, with big-name Japanese firms such as Mitsubishi Corp., Sumitomo Corp., and Sojitz Corp. included in the roster of companies interested in expanding their local presence.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, who began a three-day investment mission in Japan last June 19, has met with representatives from these companies to discuss those expansion prospects.

Based on their meetings with company representatives, the Department of Trade and Industry said Mitsubishi has expressed keen interest in infrastructure development through new projects where it can leverage its expertise in energy transformation and digital transformation.

Sumitomo, on the other hand, is looking at further expanding its more than 500-hectare industrial park in Batangas, the First Philippine Industrial Park.

The Japanese firm shared plans to add residential and commercial areas around the industrial park, a joint venture with local conglomerate First Philippine Holdings.

Meanwhile, Tokyo-based trading and investment firm Sojitz Corp., whose local automotive arm holds the import and distribution licenses for Geely vehicles, is keen on investments in the cell tower construction and colocation business.

Despite these bright prospects, only time will tell if these plans will come to fruition. —Alden M. Monzon

More potatoes for . . . Shakey’s Pizza

One would think that a famous restaurant like Shakey’s Pizza would front-load its pizza stores for growth since, after all, its name bears the word “pizza.”

However, the Po family-led firm, which also happens to operate crowd favorite Potato Corner, on Thursday confirmed that they were actually focusing on the potato fries brand’s growth this year.

Shakey’s president and CEO Vicente Gregorio told reporters that of their planned 400 new stores this year, 280 (or 70 percent of the total) will be Potato Corner kiosks. The titular Shakey’s, meanwhile, will only get around 20 new stores.

“These are smaller investments, and there’s a lot of opportunities for sharing this wonderful brand (Potato Corner) to MSMEs (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises),” he said.

“We’re very fortunate. A lot of entrepreneurs, big and small, have been interested. And we’ve had a long list of franchise applicants for Potato Corner and all our casual dining brands,” Gregorio added.

As of the end of March, Shakey’s had 268 pizza outlets and 1,874 Potato Corner kiosks.

Despite the apparent deprioritization, the 50-year-old Shakey’s brand remained “very relevant and a leader in the category,” according to Gregorio.

Of course, changing times call for changing strategies. Gregorio said they would also grow their multibrand store portfolio to cater to differing tastes and preferences, and that they already had one such format in Mindanao.

Fingers crossed that we can all get Shakey’s, Potato Corner, and Peri-Peri all in one area! —MEG J. ADONIS

No hoarding of aging rice, please

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is appealing to those trooping to Kadiwa stores: let others also get a chance to buy affordable rice.

“We are appealing to our countrymen who form part of vulnerable sectors [to follow the rules on buying subsidized rice in Kadiwa stores] so that many others will benefit from the program,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said on Thursday.

De Mesa, also the DA spokesperson, said each household in the vulnerable sector would be allowed to purchase only 10 kilograms of rice a month in selected Kadiwa outlets.

“We don’t want to repeat that kind of experience we’ve had before,” he added, noting that rice was hoarded by sly entrepreneurs only to be resold elsewhere.

The DA will soon sell aging albeit still quality rice at P29 per kilo.

De Mesa said the DA would hold a dry run of this program called “Bigas 29” for an eventual launch across all Kadiwa outlets. —Jordeene B. Lagare

Karaoke on the global stage

Karaoke will be given a reintroduction abroad as “Everybody Sing,” an original singing game show created by ABS-CBN Corp., can now be franchised overseas. The show has been recently included in the portfolio of Global Agency, one of the world’s leading TV content distributors.

The game show, which was recognized as the 2023 Best Asian Original Game Show by Content Asia Awards, premiered in 2021. It has been running for three seasons now with a total of 156 episodes.

The current version is hosted by comedian Vice Ganda, who was awarded as the Best Entertainment Host at the 2021 Asian Academy Creative Awards.

“‘Everybody Sing’ is a joyous celebration of music and its power to bring people together, as well as a showcase for the inspiring work and interests of the community groups within our societies,” Global Agency founder and CEO Izzet Pinto said.

Now, the question is: Are you excited to watch the franchised versions of the game show abroad? —Tyrone Jasper C. Piad