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By Aldwin R. Fajardo

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (November 1, 2000 - Saipan Tribune/PINA Nius Online)---Saipan is in for an exciting hamburger war when popular Filipino fast food restaurant, Jollibee, opens it second store on the island in what appears to be a move to level the playing field with American giant McDonald's.

Construction of the second Jollibee restaurant on Saipan, located adjacent to the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Chalan Kanoa, has been ongoing since July and is expected to be completed in time for the scheduled grand opening in January.

The popular Filipino fast food restaurant entered the hamburger quick service industry in the Northern Marianas during the latter part of 1999. It already had Pacific Islands restaurants in Guam and Papua New Guinea.

The Chalan Kanoa branch is part of the agreement sealed between Jollibee Foods Corporation-Philippines and YCO Corporation, which holds the fast food's franchise in the Northern Marianas. YCO Corporation also owns Liberty Plaza and a chain of hardware stores on Saipan.

In Guam, the franchise agreement guarantees the operation of at least four Jollibee restaurants in a period of five years. Two branches are now in operation in the neighboring island where Filipinos comprise about 30 percent of the overall population.

The impending opening of the second Jollibee restaurant will match the two branches of McDonald's on Saipan, located along Middle Road in Gualo Rai and along Beach Road in the commercial district of Garapan.

Company officials were quick to emphasize that the erection of a second Jollibee store on Saipan has no relation to the closure of internationally known American hamburger restaurant, Wendy's, this week.

In fact, Jollibee’s expansion on Saipan is part of a business master plan designed through collaboration between executives and marketing experts of the Jollibee main office in the Philippines and Saipan's YCO Corporation.

Industry analysts said there is enough market for another Jollibee restaurant on the island, considering the size of the Filipino community here, as well as the restaurant's unique menu, which appeals to both Oriental and Continental customers.

They believe that the company's decision to open another branch on Saipan is dictated by current market demand, especially in strategic locations where there is a huge concentration of potential customers.

Jollibee's entry into the local fast-food industry, which has been home to such American giants as McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, stirred excitement on Saipan where Filipinos remain the largest ethnic group.

The restaurant's entry into the Saipan market saw the introduction of the Champ burger, which offers hints of garlic and soy flavor, the crispy Chickenjoy, spaghetti, hotdogs, Palabok, Aloha Burger, which includes a slice of pineapple, and peach-mango pie.

The Saipan branch is the 30th Jollibee restaurant on foreign shores.

It has restaurants in Guam, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, southern China and Papua New Guinea.

Jollibee Foods Corporation intends to make offshore stores account for 20 percent of the company's business in the long term.

Jollibee’s was launched in 1978 as an ice cream parlor in the heart of suburban Quezon City's Cubao district.

During its first year of operation, Jollibee registered total sales of P2 million. It climbed to P24 million two years after. In 1981, Jollibee joined the list of Philippines' top 1,000 corporations with turnover shooting up by 51 percent to P36 million.

(NOTE: US$ 1.00 = Philippine Peso 51.35 on November 1, 2000)

Jollibee hit its first P1 billion mark in sales in 1989. In the Philippines, Jollibee controls 57 percent of the hamburger market compared with major rival McDonald's 36 percent.

Jollibee plans to expand its U.S. operations by adding five more stores to the one existing outlet in Daly City, California.

Fifty more stores are expected to open in the Philippines, bringing its local network to over 350 restaurants, including those owned by franchisees.

Jollibee is a 100 percent Filipino-owned corporation which develops, operates and franchises the Jollibee hamburger fast-food concept and the Greenwich pizza-pasta fast-food concept.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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