Monday, 27 July 2009

Filipino doughnut chain continues to open outlets

Estrella Torres
Business Mirror

While the global recession is influencing Filipinos’ spending attitude prompting them to be prudent and to buy less, sales of food products—so-called non-basic ones such as doughnuts—remain resilient as they continue to excite the sweet taste buds of fun-loving consumers.

While several foreign and local companies have opted to close their operations in the Philippines, GoNuts Donuts, a homegrown doughnut retail chain, continues to expand operations and hire more people as it opens new outlets.

Michael Trillana, president of the Doughnut People Inc., the firm behind GoNuts Donuts, said Filipino consumers value things such as food that bring their family together—especially their children.

“Doughnuts are fun food products, both in shape and color. While many consumers are now prudent in spending, they still see to it that they bring home food products, and we don’t see any change in that attitude despite the [global economic] crisis,” Trillana told the BusinessMirror in an interview.

He admitted that since the onset of the crisis late last year, Filipino consumers have become cautious and prudent in spending for food products. The company has registered around 5-percent to 10-percent drop in sales since late 2008.

But Trillana said the losses were regained easily during the holiday season, when sales posted a 10-percent to 20-percent increase. He pointed to the hike in sales resulting from the heavy inflows of remittances of Filipino workers and, at the same time, companies and schools buy boxes of doughnuts for parties.

To maintain interest and excitement of doughnut lovers in the country, the company will soon introduce Filipino varieties of doughnuts under the “Yabang-Pinoy” line. These include doughnuts with flavors of well-loved Filipino delicacies such as macapuno, halo-halo, mais and sapin-sapin.

“We are obsessed with quality and the best way to sustain [the business] is to maintain the quality or improve it some more,” said Trillana.

GoNuts Donuts opened for business on December 11, 2003, with its flagship store at the Fort Strip in the Bonifacio Global City. The company which introduced the first melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts in the Philippines has since grown to close 50 stores in Metro Manila, greater Luzon and Cebu.

Trillana said it also pays to be the only local doughnuts company that operates at par with foreign brands of doughnuts because they do not have to pay royalties to the American mother branch. The existing foreign brands of doughnuts include Dunkin’ Donuts, Mr. Donut and the latest Krispy Kreme.

“Since we’re a 100-percent Filipino company, we don’t have to spend for royalties unlike those foreign brand of doughnuts and that saves us a lot during these times of global financial difficulties,” he said.

In effect, the company has not resorted to retrenchment of its employees or reduction of operating costs.

“We also inculcate to the minds of our employees that they have to take pride in the company,” said Trillana.

He said the firm has even increased the product lines from doughnuts and cupcakes, it has also introduced pizzas that are shaped like doughnuts.

GoNuts Donuts is on a hiring spree and will soon open its latest branch in the Alphaland building located near the Magallanes MRT station in Makati City.

Trillana said the company also plans to open new outlets but since the crisis is far from over, “we will have to be prudent and cautious in our expansion plans.”

The GoNuts Donuts products are known for their soft and fluffy doughnuts and cupcakes. When it opened in 2003, eager buyers queued for hours just to take home a box of doughnuts.

GoNuts Donuts have captivated consumers with familiar but distinctive flavors like dulce de leche, Amazing Glaze, Strawberry Glaze, Choc-o-Nut, Chocolate Cake, Yummy Vanilla, Rocky Road and Black Forest.

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