Balamban Liempo to expand through joint ventures

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Balamban Liempo president and CEO Jojo Vergara, Honey Vergara and operations manager Cris Crisologo during the company’s celebration of its 5th anniversary. (Photo by Allan Defensor of Sun.Star Cebu)


ALTHOUGH franchising has paved the way for the growth of many businesses, a local entrepreneur has chosen to expand his food business to 1,000 stores under a 10-year period through a different expansion approach.

Homegrown brand Balamban Liempo, through its chief executive officer and founder Jojo Vergara, announced it will enter into more joint ventures as it seeks to grow the business year by year.

In the past five years, Balamban Liempo Food Industries Inc. adopted franchising for expansion but Vergara said they encountered problems under this scheme because some franchisees do not follow the rules set by the company, especially in maintaining the same liempo taste across all branches.

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"The brand really suffered. The problem with franchising is that we don't have control over them. We hear some people say that the Balamban Liempo in this area tastes better than the other Balamban Liempo store," Vergara said.

The company owns close to a hundred branches. Of the number, 31 are under franchise, 30 under joint venture and the rest company-owned.

The franchising fee is at P500,000 but under the joint venture, one only has to invest P250,000. Net profit will be divided equally, less 15 percent as management fee.

Under the joint venture business model, Vergara said the company will have operational control. He said this will further boost the number of loyal customers.

In preparation for its expansion in Southeast Asian countries, the company is fast tracking its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point accreditation.

"We will start with countries with lots of Filipino presence. Singapore and Hong Kong are our targets for expansion abroad," Vergara said.

In its five years of operation, Balamban Liempo got a certification of Good Manufacturing Practice and the stamp of approval from the National Meat Inspection Service.

To address the increasing demand for meat, Vergara imports meat from France to meet the standard of having 75 percent lean meat and 25 percent fat. Local supply, in terms of quantity and quality, does not meet the company's standards, he said.

In the future, he plans to put up his own pig farm so he need not import. However, the chickens they roast, what he calls the "Balambanok," are sourced from local suppliers.

Balamban Liempo was established by Vergara and his wife Honey in July 17, 2009. The latter grew up in the town of Balamban which has a native method of grilling liempo or pork belly using several local herbs and secret ingredients.

The couple set up their first shop in Mabolo in Cebu City. The brand later went national and became a favorite among locals. JOG

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 23, 2014.

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