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Philippine fast-food chain Jollibee to enter Europe via Italy

Company seeks to sustain growth by tapping 800,000 Filipino expats

MANILA -- Philippine fast-food company Jollibee Foods is making a foray into the European market through Italy, the company said on Monday.

Jollibee's offshore unit Golden Plate is forming a joint venture with Blackbird Holdings to run the first Jollibee store in Italy. Both have committed an initial capital of up to 1 million euros. Golden Plate will own 75% of the venture, which will be solely managed by Jollibee.

Blackbird is a private investment company set up in 2014 and currently holds various investments in the food and beverage, human resources, agriculture and biotechnology sectors in the Philippines and Singapore, where the company is based.

Jollibee said the expansion in Italy is an "excellent opportunity" to introduce the Jollibee brand to the European market, where more than 800,000 Filipinos reside. Italy alone has around 270,000 Filipino expats, the biggest concentration in Europe.

Jollibee, which traces its roots from an ice cream shop in Manila during the 1970s, has grown to become the Philippines' largest quick service restaurant operator.

The company, which aims to become one of the world's largest fast-food groups, has expanded in Southeast Asia, China, the United States and the Middle East, targeting the millions of overseas Filipino workers.

As of end-February, Jollibee Foods was operating 2,670 outlets at home though various brands, including its eponymous burger and fried chicken chain. Abroad, it had 620 branches.

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