Home Top News Miguelitos eyes overseas franchise for ice cream, sees strong demand

Miguelitos eyes overseas franchise for ice cream, sees strong demand

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FILIPINO ice cream maker Miguelitos International Corp. is set to launch franchises in New Zealand and Dubai as it expects strong international demand, according to its top official.

The company will open outlets in Auckland and Dubai, Miguelito’s President Michelle A. Aman told BusinessWorld in a video interview. “We got a master franchise in Dubai because we put an exhibit there for export and they saw that our business model is good.”

Miguelito’s, which also makes instant food premixes, is set to open 30 outlets for its soft serve ice cream in Dubai. Their halal ice cream is now making waves in Zamboanga and they expect it to do well in the Middle East.

It recently partnered with New West Zone supermarket and department store, where its ice cream brand is sold.

Miguelitos opened a branch at the Maputo Shopping Centre in Mozambique in February.

“We were surprised because there were no Filipinos there,” Ms. Aman said, adding that the business has generated one of their highest sales at P100,000 a day. “All the locals are our customers.”

Miguelitos has 600 stores nationwide, with 480 franchisees inside malls, supermarkets and colleges. Aside from Mozambique, it also has ice cream outlets in Australia.

Among its best-selling ice cream flavors are hyped mango, avocado locco, crunchies and rolled ice cream.

Ms. Aman said their edge over competitors lies in the fact that their ice cream has 80% less sugar. They also sell vegan flavors.

Franchisees must shell out P500,000 to P1.7 million because malls have their own standards and varying location sizes.

The package includes location assistance, after-sales support, initial stocks and kiosks, machines, equipment and small wares.

“We also hire service crews for them and [provide] the inventory system. The business is plug and play,” she added.

The Philippine franchise sector is expected to grow by 10% to P34 billion in revenue this year from a year earlier, Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) President Chris Lim said in April, when more than 700 brands including Miguelitos and 100 foreign brands participated in Franchise Asia Philippines 2024.

PFA also expects the number of franchise outlets to grow by 8% to 216,000 this year.

Miguelitos started in 2002, when Ms. Aman and her husband Marlon bought a P250,000 single-nozzle ice cream machine in Mega Mall. The ice cream became a hit at their former store in Paco, Manila.

She said tricycle, jeepney, pedicab and motorbike drivers were their main customers back then. “They stopped before going home to buy from us.”

They sold 1,000 to 1,500 ice cream cones daily for P5 each.

Miguelitos later moved to the food court of an Ayala-owned mall near the capital.

“Our ice cream retail became more successful because the presentation was good,” Ms. Aman said. “We now had our own cart, unlike when we were just selling ice cream on a sidewalk.”

Miguelitos drew the attention of their first franchisee, who brought the ice cream brand to Cebu.

As demand rose, Ms. Aman said they had to rent a 2,500-square meter warehouse in Parañaque because their branch in Harrison Plaza in Manila was getting crowded.

Then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Miguelitos’ business was affected as malls were shuttered amid a nationwide lockdown.

Ms. Aman said some of their franchisees closed shop. “After the pandemic, Miguelitos bounced back starting in the last quarter of 2023.”

The challenges did not stop as the world learned to live with the pandemic.

Miguelitos has had to deal with rising raw material prices such as cocoa, which it uses in its ice cream, as well as exchange rate fluctuations.

Cocoa prices rose by about 60% and the company had to absorb the cost and spare its franchisees at the beginning, Ms. Aman said.

Miguelitos is now seeking to build air-conditioned outdoor spaces similar to the ones used by take-out coffee shops and burger chains.

After 22 years in the market, Miguelitos now assembles its ice cream machine and produces its premix powders in its warehouse. — Aubrey Rose A. Inosante

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