(Source: Business Mirror | 25 August 2016)
The Filipino licensee of a Canadian pizza outlet bared its plan to expand not only domestically, but also in other countries in Southeast Asia, given the Asean economic integration.
Steveston Pizza Philippines Corp. CEO Richard Go said on Thursday they plan to bring the brand to other areas in the country and abroad in the next two to three years.
“We probably will be looking at Indonesia, followed by Brunei [Darussalam] and maybe Singapore,” he said without divulging the amount of investment required. “We really have to do it in time with the Asean integration.”
Go said they intend to expand overseas by tying up with a local partner in every location abroad.
Currently, the three member states of the Asean have a combined population of 262.4 million. The Philippines has over 100 million.
This is a significant market size for Steveston Pizza, an eight-year-old brand based in Vancouver, Canada. It became an international restaurant player when the licensee first put up a branch in Tomas Morato in Quezon City three years ago.
But since the location had a restrictive lease period for only 18 months, the dining place transferred to the UP Town Center as the first existing store. The second outlet then opened at Corinthian Gardens Clubhouse in Mandaluyong City on July 25. Though not operating yet, the one in Circuit Makati will soon open once the Ayala-owned property, which used to be the Santa Ana Race track, is fully developed.
“We figured this is a concept that is acceptable for Filipinos,” he said of their decision to franchise Steveston Pizza. “Filipinos are becoming more and more cosmopolitan. They can enjoy products from all over the world.”
Steveston Pizza offers around 30 variants of pizzas created by its very own principal, who used to be a training chef of Holland-America Cruise Line.
“We raised the bar for preparing pizzas [in the country],” he said of their strategy different from other similar players. “When we prepare our pizza, it’s one at a time. So it’s not commercial. We prepare it only when you order. And then we have a sequence of layering the different ingredients, which are all in harmony with one another.”
Unlike other brands, he said the crust of their pizza is “fluffy and chewy” due to their very own proprietary ingredient. He said they also offer appetizers, soups and salads to add variety to the menu.
Price-wise, Steveston’s pizzas are of premium class as they cost from P300 to P1,299. However, with their generous toppings described as “abundant, fully loaded and overflowing,” he said it’s really value for money.
Since its launch in the Philippines, the pizza chain has been getting raves from local diners, especially the discriminating ones.
In fact, Go said, their outlet is constantly at the Top 5 performing restaurant-tenant at the UP Town Center.
He said in Corinthian Gardens, with around 600 households, the store has already 3,000 plus “captive” customers, who flock to it mostly on weekends.
“As opposed to some other concepts, whose sales continue to dip as more concepts or players come in to place, we have maintained our ideal level and we’re happy with that,” he told the BusinessMirror. “As to our [sales] number, we started out with a base that was a lot higher than normal. It’s a seven-digit number.”
Upbeat on the continuous economic growth in the country complemented by the improved purchasing power of the local consumers, Go is optimistic of the pizza restaurant business tenacity, amid tight competition in the local dining scene.
“In the Philippines, what happens is that we are now bombarded with many new concepts, and everybody always likes to try something new. So, in our operation, it’s a matter of remaining true to our brand and remaining true to who we really are. We don’t try to do what everybody else is doing,” Go said. “While normally, there is a shelf life to a certain concept, pizza is a comfort food that will be there forever.”
Steveston Pizza will expand nationwide, alongside its planned overseas expansion. Go said they will be choosy on the location, preferably in high-end areas.
“We are not an impulse concept. We are more of a destination place. We have to be in a place matched to our targeted premium market,” he said. “We’ll see what happens to the federation idea of our President. If it becomes successful, maybe we will have one in every federated state. With that, I believe the growth [of our business] will be more. It will be going to be ‘double-digit.’”
– By Roderick Abad