Jollibee's president international has said that Brits' love of fried chicken made a UK opening a "no brainer" for Asia's biggest fast food group.
The Filipino brand, known for its fried chicken and sweet spaghetti served with hotdog slices and grated cheese, will open its first UK restaurant in London's Earl's Court tomorrow (Saturday 20 October). Its first European opening (the UK will mark its second) in Milan this March saw customers queuing for six hours and president international Dennis Flores (pictured, left) told The Caterer he expects to see similar scenes tomorrow.
He said: "The Filipinos will come, they know our flagship products. We have the Chickenjoy [fried chicken] which is crispylicious on the outside and juicylicious on the inside. We have sweet-style spaghetti, which we call Jolly Spaghetti and we have our Yumburgers - we are confident that in due time the locals will love our brand as well."
Also, on the menu are burger steaks and sides including mushroom gravy, rice, fries and mashed potato. While fried chicken with a side of a spaghetti is not yet a British staple, Flores said that the company's experience of moving into new countries as part of its ongoing expansion campaign suggests its menu will be a hit.
He said: "This has been manifested in the other countries we operate in. In Vietnam we have more than 100 stores and almost everyone who goes to our stores are Vietnamese, it's really mainstream. In Singapore and Hong Kong more than 50% of our customers are locals. While we may not see a lot of Brits at our store in the first few weeks, because of the huge volume of customers we expect from the Philippines in time we believe we can attract them with the menu we have."
While the store will launch with the standard Jollibee menu, Flores said that additions could follow tuned to the specific market.
Jollibee, the flagship brand of the 14-concept strong Jollibee Foods Corporation, is in the midst of rapid global expansion and has 4,300 restaurants across 20 countries. Flores said the brand is aiming to grow to 25 sites in the UK, including multiple restaurants in London and others in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.
Flores added: "It's only proper and fitting that we enter the UK, because the UK is the largest fried chicken market in Europe. We've got 900 KFC stores in this country and we are confident that we have an infinitely better product than KFC and so we think we are in a good position to be a major player here."
Asked if the difficult conditions on the high street had troubled the company he said: "It's not just the UK that faces challenges. We are coming in with the knowledge we have a superior tasting product and a substantial Filipino community. We believe we can win here."