The island province of Cebu is known for many things: sumptuous lechon, sweet ripe mangoes, white sand beaches, ingenious furniture design and fiesta-loving Cebuanos, among other things.
But don't let their laid-back and fiesta-loving lifestyle fool you – Cebuanos are a hardworking and entrepreneurial lot. It's no wonder then that the “Queen City of the South” has seen massive economic growth and infrastructure development over the past couple of decades.
Another testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Cebuanos is the number of franchise brands that have come out of Cebu. Some of these franchise brands have not only achieved nationwide success, they are also setting their sights on the international market.
Before its image models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner ruled the city, Penshoppe already ruled fashion retail in the Philippines. Founded in Cebu in 1986, Penshoppe is the flagship brand of Golden ABC Inc., the apparel manufacturing company owned by Bernie Liu. As one of the early franchise players, Penshoppe expanded to a network of more than 300 stores here and abroad, with presences in Dubai, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and soon in Australia.
Founded in Cebu in 1992, Island Souvenirs took the idea of pasalubong to a whole new level. Its founder Jay Aldeguer wanted to elevate Cebu's souvenir industry from a cottage industry to a full-fledged retail powerhouse that can compete in the major malls. Today, Island Souvenirs uses franchising to manage a network of more than 80 stores all over the Philippines, and has paved the way for an island-hopping experience called Islands Banca and a chain of budget hotels called Islands Stay.
Before Starbucks came to the Philippines in 1997, there was already Bo's Coffee. Founded by Steve Benitez in Cebu in 1996, Bo's Coffee has since grown into one of the country's leading specialty coffee shops. It also advocates the promotion of Philippine coffee, and helps local coffee farmers by choosing to strictly source its coffee beans locally. Today, Bo's Coffee is spreading homegrown coffee goodness through its network of more than 60 stores.
Hukad sa Golden Cowrie
Hukad is the latest restaurant concept by the people behind the Golden Cowrie Restaurant, which first opened in Cebu in 1982 as a hole-in-the-wall made out of bamboo and sawali. True to the Golden Cowrie tradition, Hukad's menu and ambiance screams Filipino fiesta: huge servings of food, big tables with lots of seating room, and cheerful servers and waiters. It's always a feast in Hukad sa Golden Cowrie's more than 40 restaurants all over the Philippines and has recently opened its first franchise in Metro Manila.
La Vie Parisienne
As the name suggests, this quaint bakery from Cebu wants to give Filipinos a taste of the French capital, without the travel expenses. French entrepreneur Louis Thevenin partnered with Cebuano business magnate Michel Lhuillier of the Lhuillier Group of Companies to bring this bakery to life in 2013. Aside from breads and pastries, La Vie Parisienne also boasts of an extensive wine list.
Speaking of Michel Lhuillier, Mr. Potato is his latest business offering. Founded in Cebu City in 2013, Mr. Potato sells gourmet-quality flavored French fries made from imported potatoes from Belgium. These premium French fries come in cheese, barbecue and sour cream flavors, and are served in cups for easier handling. Mr. Potato now has a network of more than 60 stores in the Visayas, and is looking for franchisees for its nationwide growth.
A modern take on the Chinese teahouse, Dimsum Break was founded in Cebu in 1996. It came as the company's response to a mall operator's desire to cater to late-night customers in bowling alleys and movie cinemas. Its self-service, interactive restaurant environment makes it easy for on-the-go customers to customize their meal items. Affordable Chinese fare can now be enjoyed in Dimsum Break's 16 branches nationwide.
Beauty & Beyond
The brainchild of twins Jennifer and Jasmin Weigel-Sarmiento, Beauty & Beyond was launched in Cebu in 2012 to meet the demand for affordable, high-quality facial beauty and body sculpting services in the island province. Since then, it has been awarded multiple times as the best aesthetic center in Cebu. Beauty & Beyond opened for franchising in 2014 to jump-start its nationwide growth.
Tablea Chocolate Cafe
The star at this cafe is, well, tablea, those pressed rounds of roasted cacao beans. Founded by Aya Garcia Shlachter in 2010, Tablea offers both traditional and more modern takes on the tablea such as hot chocolate, ice-blended chocolate drinks and tablea-based desserts such as crepes and cakes. Tablea opened for franchising in 2014 to spread its chocolatey goodness all over the Philippines.
This family-owned business wants to put a spring in your every step with its hand-crafted, bejeweled sandals and accessories. Operating mostly out of Cebu City, Valeñ Antoine manufactures and distributes high-quality hand-crafted sandals and accessories made out of natural gemstones, semi-precious stones, acrylic beads, Swarovski crystals and pearls, among other materials. Valeñ Antoine opened for franchising this year so that it can better distribute its wares all over the country.
Ready to expand your business nationwide through franchising? Francorp has developed professional franchise programs for hundreds of brands to help accelerate their expansion. To know if you’re ready to franchise, take a free franchisability test, visit francorp.com.ph or call (+63917) 835.55.30 / (+632) 638.3149
Sam Christopher Lim is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy at franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects for ASEAN integration at the Philippine Franchise Association.
All photos from official company websites and Facebook pages.