Max’s looking to open 60-70 stores in 2017

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Robert Trota, president and CEO of Max's Group, addresses the annual stockholders' meeting,

MANILA – Casual dining operator Max’s Group is looking at opening 60-70 stores this year while scouting for additional expansion opportunities overseas.

At its annual stockholders meeting, Max’s Group CEO Robert Trota said they are on the continued lookout for viable overseas partners to build their international portfolio. This is on top of their existing operations in North America, Middle East, and Asia including China.

By end 2016, the group — which owns Max’s Restaurant, Yellow Cab Pizza, Pancake House, Krispy Kreme and Teriyaki Boy — tallied a total of 623 locations, 49 of which overseas.

The group last year posted a 12% increase in net profit to 561.74 million.

Trota said among their overseas operations, China counts among the most promising.

“We have signed two development agreements for China already and they have opened their first stores, so hopefully we’ll open the second and third stores for the next few months, and I think right now that’s our development for China as of the moment,” Trota said.

“If we open it right it will be very big for the Max’s group so we want to do it right the first time and we are striving for that with our partners.”

The group said they will use existing working capital and bank loans for their expansion plans this year.

Dave Fuentebella, Max’s Group director and chief finance officer, said they “continue to be positive on the economic situation in the Philippines and that’s why as mentioned we want to roll out 60-70 new stores because we feel there is enough room for us to expand in this current situation.”

Former PLDT executive Ariel Fermin, who recently came onboard the Max’s Group as chief operating and innovation officer, said he is also looking at piloting digital initiatives for Max’s.

Fermin said they are looking forward “to giving the brand a little bit of a refresh not only in terms of communication but also in terms of innovation; of course, the retail presentation.”

Elaborating, Fermin said, “when you mention loyalty programs then you cannot decouple that from the digital solutions that come with that, and for the mobile first — always on millennial consumers — so you could very well see where we are headed in that direction.”

With the growing middle class in the country, Max’s Group is banking that appetite for casual dining wilil continue to fuel their business.