MANILA, January 14, 2006
 (STAR) By Ehda M. Dagooc The Freeman - Just like mobile phone's text message, the fast food business has seen a huge growth potential in the countryside despite the long-standing economic difficulties in the Philippines.

Jollibee Foods franchisee Jollibee Bogo Inc. sees countryside areas in Cebu as fertile ground for business expansion as residents in these areas have learned to adopt the urban lifestyle such as fast food dining.

Jollibee Bogo Inc. pioneered the opening of Jollibee in the sub-rural areas like Bogo in the northern part of Cebu, and Carcar in the southern part.

"We see that in urban areas like Metro Cebu competition in the fast food business is very stiff, and the market is so crowded already. We took the risk of opening in the countryside some years back and saw the huge opportunity for growth," said Jollibee Bogo Inc. managing director Jonkie Ouano.

Jollibee Bogo opened in 2002. Initially, the company experienced hard time in terms of sales as this type of concept is new for the residents, who had not been used to dining outside their houses. Ouano said the company went through difficult times at first, but because of constant marketing campaigns in Bogo and the neighboring towns, the outlet has slowly gained good sales returns a year after its operation.

Ouano said about 60 percent of its diners or patrons are local residents, while 40 percent are tourists or transients. Any food venture for that matter, according to Ouano is a very good business crisis or not in crisis. But, since fast food type of servings is a new development especially for countryside residents, there is a need to invest in Local Store Marketing (LSM) campaign and outlet awareness, among other promotional vehicles. Jollibee Carcar outlet which is also managed by Ouano's group is going well, a manifestation that fast food business is not only profitable in the urban areas, but also in the countryside.

Ouano said there are a lot of areas in Cebu province that are potential for another Jollibee franchise venture like in Bantayan Island and Toledo City.

Toledo City is another ripe area for a Jollibee outlet, especially if the Atlas Mining in Lutopan will be re-opened, Ouano said.

However, although the company's boards of directors have seen a feasible Jollibee venture in this area, Ouano said approval would depend on the Jollibee Food's management.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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