Uniqlo to carry Jollibee T-shirts

Ong said the fastfood giant and Uniqlo share similarities that make them good partners. They both have humble beginnings, strong appeal to the young market, and the mission to give back to the community.

Jollibee Philippines president Joseph Tanbuntiong said both brands always have the consumers foremost in mind. 

Tanbuntiong added that he and his family admire how Uniqlo stores are clean, orderly, very organized, and provide value for consumer's money – considerations that Jollibee also has for its loyal customers.

"Uniqlo offers quality products at affordable prices and Jollibee offers the same," he said.

"Every time I come to this Uniqlo branch, I always looked at the merchandise and saw all these other brands [for Uniqlo t-shirts]. I wondered, 'When would Jollibee have its own Uniqlo t-shirt?' So when I heard this news (collaboration), I got so excited. I'm very happy," Tanbuntiong said.

Regional exposure

The collaboration is the first in the Philippines for Uniqlo, which eyes more partnerships with other homegrown brands that have global appeal like Jollibee.

The Jollibee T-shirts will not only be sold in Uniqlo stores in the Philippines, but also in other Southeast Asian countries, like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Tanbuntiong said exposing the T-shirt line in markets where Jollibee has no presence yet, but already has a strong following will further boost the brand's potential in the growing ASEAN region. “The Jollibee t-shirt will be there first before the store,” he said with a laugh.

Both brands are also bullish for their growth prospects this year.

Uniqlo has 23 stores in the country, and is planning to open several more in 2015, Kubota said, without giving specifics.

It is also relaunching its branches in SM Fairview and Dasmariñas. By relaunching, the stores will be smaller in space and carry specific lines that are suited for the customers in these locations, Kubota said. He added that the SM Fairview branch was also about the same size for sales floors as the flagship store in Mall of Asia, thus the need to “make it more suitable.”

Also starting Friday, May 29, Uniqlo has celebratory promos in time for its third year in the country.

For Jollibee’s part, Tanbuntiong said the company is right on track with its expansion plans for the year, eyeing an estimated 50 more stores this year. “In first-tier cities and municipalities in the country, we already have stores there. We’re now looking at second- and third-tier to put up our stores,” he said.

“Similarly we’re also aggressive in opening stores overseas,” he said. Jollibee recently opened in Dubai; announced plans to put a store in Chicago; and in the lookout to have Jollibee in Europe.

Last year, the Jollibee group had to temporarily close over 70 stores under its umbrella due to IT migration problem. Asked about this, Tanbuntiong said that things are progressing well now.

“We’re almost there. We’re nearing complete normalization. We target to complete it (IT migration) this year,” he said.  

As for their future as partners, Jollibee and Uniqlo executives were asked if they are already discussing plans to extend their collaboration. Kubota said the brands are like "lovers" who just met, and they are still in the process of getting to know each other, but everything is possible.

Jollibee’s Ong said the collaboration with Uniqlo opens more opportunities for the fastfood giant to consider more global partnerships.

“We’re open to tie-ups, and we’ll let the expert (like Uniqlo) do their part. But in terms of focus, our business is still fastfood – the Yum (burger), Jolly spaghetti, Chickenjoy. That’s what we do best and we’ll continue to focus on that (fastfood),” Tanbuntiong said.

And as both brands have well-established corporate social responsibility efforts, Tanbuntiong said that Jollibee and Uniqlo could consider to jointly have a "giving back to the community" activity.

“That’s a good idea,” he replied, when asked.

The t-shirts, available in 6 designs of the Jollibee logo and mascot, will be available in Uniqlo stores starting Monday, June 1, at P390 ($8.72) each. Rappler.com 

$1 = P44.72