With over 1,000 McDonald\u2019s and 900 KFC sites across Britain, any newcomer to the nation's fast-food sector has a difficult task convincing hungry consumers, who are craving a quick and reliable fix to enter its premises.\u00a0\r\n\r\nFor Jollibee - a Filipino-originated fried chicken chain, headed by billionaire businessman Tony Tan Caktiong - some may argue its cult following across Asia gave it a head start when it decided to launch its first outlet in Earls Court, London back in 2018.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe opening proved to be a success, with Jollibee setting up two further sites in Liverpool and Leicester in 2020 - selling three million pieces of chicken across all its UK stores since its debut.\u00a0\r\n\r\nToday, Jollibee operates 1,300 sites with only 234 of those stores located in areas outside of the Philippines. However, with the company recently investing \u00a330m in expanding its UK offering it's clear the chain is determined to carve out a place in the western fast-food market.\u00a0\r\nWhy the UK?\u00a0\r\nIn Asia, Jollibee is a household name and it has also held an established position in the United States since the early 1990s - so what was the group's motivation behind furthering its expansion into the UK?\u00a0\r\n\r\nAccording to Adam Parkinson, VP of the group\u2019s European operations, one of the core reasons around its expansion was to reach Fillipino expats who had left the country, and provide them with a \u201ctaste of home\u201d. But Parkinson, who joined the group in July 2019, says the chain was also hungry to attract a new wider western audience, mainly young millennials and Gen Zs, who says \u201ccould ensure the future of the brand is safe''.\u00a0\r\n\r\nTo do this, Jollibee had to make some changes to its existing UK offering, namely through its social media presence with the group migrating from its traditional Filipino-centric feel and altering the tone and visuals to create a more contemporary one which could appeal to the young western eye.\u00a0\r\n\r\nParkinson, confesses that this process was a \u201ctricky balancing act,\u201d as the company was also cautious of making sure its base business of loyal Fillpinio customers would not be upset by its more eurocentric rebrand. In a bid to pay homage to its South East Asian roots the company\u2019s new flagship store which will open this May in Lecister square will feature a \u201cwall hung gallery of inspirational pictures\u201d from across Asia, which hope to share the history of the 40-year-old brand.\u00a0\r\n\r\nStanding out\r\nDespite Jollibee\u2019s investment into ensuring it can win over a new customer base, Parkinson says the brand is still bringing something new to the British market. The menu sports \u201cniche items\u201d that would be unusual to the typical English palette, such as a burger steak served with rice and a spaghetti dish topped with sausage pieces.\u00a0\r\n\r\nParkinson\u00a0is aware that the UK\u2019s casual dining experience is already full of both Asian and traditional fast-food options, however he is confident that the brand's affordable price point along with the quality of its goods might just be able to sway consumers. \u201cWe are trying to create a high standard product without taking away the fast-food price,\u201d he says.\u00a0\r\n\r\nCurrently, the company breads all its chicken in store and its sauces are handmade. In terms of cost, the company sells a chicken burger for \u00a33.99. He is also hopeful that the store can attract workers on their lunch break, perhaps looking for a quick but healthy option - with the store also selling bean sprouts and Asian slaws as an alternative to a deep fried product.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jollibee opened restaurants in both Liverpool and Leicester, a decision which Parkinson says was \u201ctough\u201d. However he says the move was fueled by the company\u2019s ethos of \u201cworking for the long term,\u201d and it would also give them a head start on other competitors who may have put off entering the UK due to the pandemic.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe VP is upfront and honest about the new stores profitably, saying that he would be \u201clying\u201d if he said \u201cit was all roses\u201d. At the moment, sites are just \u201cbreaking even,\u201d with Parkinson blaming a current \u201clack of traffic\u201d on the highstreet and extra spending on Covid equipment such as PPE.\u00a0\r\nThe employee experience\u00a0\r\nWhile carrying out its UK expansion, Jollibee has created 100 new roles during the pandemic. While the jobs market may currently be tough for those pursuing a career in the hospitality sector, global fast-food chains have not always had the best reputation when it comes to the treatment of its workers. Think back to the 2018 McStrike, which saw UK workers at McDonald\u2019s plead for their employers to pay them a \u201cliving wage\u201d of \u00a310 per hour.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSo with another company expanding into the country, is Jollibee doing anything different to ensure its employees are being treated arguably better than its competitors? Parkinson says that in 2020 the company ranked 239 out of 750 in Forbes World Best Employers list, something he credits to the brand's \u201cfamily spirit\u201d.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cIn the Philippines the owners are very much present in the stores and talk to employees should they need to reach out to them and give feedback on how the businesses are going,\u201d he says.\u00a0\r\n\r\nCurrently, in the UK the company has 150 staff members, a figure which will soon reach 700 after new outlets launch in Edinburgh and Cardiff before the end of the year. Parkinson\u00a0adds that he is positive about Jollibee retaining its \u2018employer of choice\u2019 status in Britain as it continues to expand.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cI think in the near future, we will look for strong franchising partners to help us grow. In doing that, you then downsize the size of the company. Rather than trying to run the whole of Europe, you may have a partner to run a particular country who shares the same values as the company does,\u201d he explains.\u00a0\r\nFast forward\r\nLooking into the post-covid landscape, the VP says the biggest test the company faces lies in eventually opening a store next to its main competitor, KFC. While Parkinson is not interested in bashing the brand - instead he sees them as an \u201cinspiration\u201d - he does believe that Jollibee\u2019s investment in the brand's modern look and diverse menu, may just pay dividends.