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Fastfood chain operator Jollibee Foods Corp. is expanding its global footprint by bringing its flagship store Jollibee to five new markets next year, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Malaysia and Oman.

It also plans to open Jollibee stores in Australia and Japan in 2017, a company executive said over the weekend.

Jollibee vice president for international operations Dennis Flores said in an interview at the recent 41st Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibitions the company’s move to venture into new markets was in line with its thrust to make Jollibee a global brand.

“At present, Jollibee is present in two continents but in the next two years, we will see Jollibee in four continents,” Flores said.

The company said its first two stores in Europe would be located in London and Milan while the company’s first store in Canada would be in Toronto.

Flores said with the company’s venture in Oman, Jollibee would be present in all areas in the Middle East.

Jollibee’s aggressive expansion over the past years propelled the company to be ranked first in Asia and 10th in the world in terms of market capitalization among publicly listed quick-service restaurants.

Flores said Jollibee also continued to expand in existing markets such as Vietnam and Brunei.

Jollibee currently has 69 stores in Vietnam and plans to add 20 new stores while there are 12 Jollibee stores in Brunei, with 12 more slated for opening over the next six months.

Jollibee last week also completed the acquisition of a 40-percent interest in US-based burger chain Smashburger for $99.47 million.

The acquisition will make Jollibee’s presence in the US more significant and will make US one of Jollibee’s growth drivers of long-term growth, along with the Philippines, China and Filipino markets abroad.

The fast-food giant also has an option purchase up to an additional 35 percent of Smashburger between 2018 and 2021 and the balance of 25 percent between 2019 at the earliest and 2026 at the latest.

Jollibee has a network of 3,013 stores globally, including 2,384 in the Philippines and 629 outlets overseas.

It also has a 50-percent interest in joint ventures Highlands Coffee (Vietnam, Philippines), Pho24 (Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Korea) and 12 Sabu (China).

International unit Jollibee Worldwide Pte. Ltd. and its partner Jasmine Asset Holding Ltd. also formed Golden Cup Pte. Ltd. to be the main franchisee of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand in China.

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