When Filipinos think of Jollibee, the first things that likely come to mind are the all-time favorite Chickenjoy, sweet-ish Jolly Spaghetti with hotdog, langhap-sarap Yumburger
But many may not realize that Jollibee has also become a global fast food “monster,” gobbling up international food brands, and high profile ones at that, like its most recent investment in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf—and we don’t mean the local Philippine franchise, but the parent company itself!
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The Jollibee story started in 1978 when Tony Tan Caktiong and his family converted their modest Magnolia ice cream parlor in Cubao, Quezon City into a fast food restaurant named Jollibee. Influenced by American fast food chains, Jollibee first introduced burgers and fries, but adapted the taste to suit the Filipino market. The company rapidly expanded, increasing its menu offerings, accepting franchises, standardizing operations, and as a result, eclipsed world number one McDonald’s as the reigning fast food king in the Philippines.
Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) then began acquiring other successful local restaurant chains, the likes of Greenwich, Chowking, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal, solidifying its position as the country’s biggest foodservice company. But JFC was just getting started, with its flagship Jollibee soon entering markets outside the Philippines, in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, North America, and most recently, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Perhaps just as importantly, JFC also started acquiring foreign brands from China to the United States, that run the gamut from burgers to noodles, tacos to pork buns, and now, coffee and tea. To get a grasp of JFC’s global reach, here’s a handy list of the foreign food brands currently in its global portfolio:
1. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
The California-based specialty coffee chain has 1,189 branches in 27 countries, including the Philippines. Its bestselling products include coffee, ice blended drinks, and locally hand-blended tea from Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, Japan, and India.
The Jollibee stake: Its largest global acquisition to date, JFC will invest $100 million in a new Singapore-based holdings company to acquire 100% of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
The burger chain is founded in Denver, Colorado, with 351 branches in the United States. Smashburger is known for its classic smash burger, classic chicken, and avocado club chicken.
The Jollibee stake: Since 2018, JFC subsidiary Bee Good! owns 100% of Smashburger
3. Tortas Frontera
The Mexican fast-casual chain based in Chicago was founded by award-winning chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill. It has four branches in the United States, and it’s famous for its pulled pork, chorizo, beef sandwiches with guacamole, cilantro salsa.
The Jollibee stake: JFC USA invested $12.4 million for a 47% membership interest in Tortas Frontera.
4. Yonghe King
This Chinese fast food chain has 316 branches around China. It is known for its noodles, soy milk, and Chinese doughnuts.
The Jollibee stake: Jollibee Worldwide Pte Ltd. owns 100 % of Yonghe King.
5. Hong Zhuang Yuan
This is a noodle fast food chain based in Beijing with 49 stores in China. Its bestsellers are its congee dishes.
The Jollibee stake: A subsidiary of Jollibee Foods Corp. has a 55% stake in Hong Zhuang Yuan.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts (China)
The Chinese operations of US-based Dunkin’ Donuts with 18 branches around China and with plans to open and operate a minimum of 1,459 shops in China over 20 years.
The Jollibee stake: Golden Cup Pte., a joint venture between Jollibee Worldwide and Jasmine Asset Holding Ltd., has the exclusive right to develop Dunkin’ Donuts in several territories in China, with Jollibee Worldwide owning 60% of Golden Cup.
7. Highlands Coffee
This is Vietnam’s number one specialty coffee chain with 159 branches in Vietnam, plus the Philippines. It is famous for its traditional blend, gourmet blend, moka blend, and culi supreme coffee.
The Jollibee stake: JFC bought half of the business of SuperFoods Group, which owns and operates Highlands Coffee, as well as Hard Rock Cafe branches and Pho24 restaurants.
8. Tim Ho Wan (Singapore)
Originating in Hong Kong, Tim Ho Wan became famous when it earned a Michelin star in 2010. Renowned for its barbecue pork buns, it now has 46 outlets in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Macau, Japan, USA, and Australia.
The Jollibee stake: JFC invested P1.74 billion to acquire the Asia Pacific master franchise holder of Tim Ho Wan