• Local chain, Lots ''A Pizza, thrives among giants in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines -- U.S. pizza franchises dominate the market in the Philippines, but that hasn't stopped local brand Lots 'A Pizza from amassing 34 outlets in six years.

According to The Philippine Star, Teresita and Ed Ngan Tian launched their chain in 1996, after they recognized the demand for pizza among their student-customers.

The Ngan Tians traveled to the U.S. to take a pizza technology course, and in 1999 started a new company, Midwest Food Industries, Inc., to enable them to franchise.

The firm's own commissary now supplies food products to all Lots 'A Pizza outlets. Nine stores are company owned, 14 are franchised and 11 are dealers, and the stores are spread throughout Manila, Cavite and Bulacan. Three new franchised outlets are slated to open in July.

For a franchise fee of P100,000 (U.S. $2,000), the franchisee gets nine days of independent training, two weeks of staff training and initial marketing support and site evaluation.

Space requirements include at least 10 square meters (108 to 270 square feet) for a take-out counter and 20 to 25 square meters (216 to 270 square feet) for dine-in service.

Total build-out plus equipment costs range from P250,000 (U.S. $5,000) to P300,000 (U.S. $6,000).

"We want to serve the middle market by providing affordable and quality pizza," said Teresita Ngan Tian. "Sometimes, our franchise applicants get impatient with our site evaluation and processing. We tell them that if we approve their applications now, we would immediately get our franchise fee. But we're after our partner's viability as well."

Lots'A Pizza prices range from as low as P30 (U.S. 60 cents) for a six-inch pie to as high as P170 (U.S. $3.40) for a 12-inch pie. Within the year, the pizza chain will introduce a 14-inch crust as well as a pasta line in the dine-in outlets.

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