AS LOCAL businesses are seeing expansion to Southeast Asia as their next step toward economic integration, a business leader believes the most efficient way for businesses to do this is by franchising.

Philippine Franchise Association chairman emeritus Samie Lim, who was in Cebu for the Franchising Negosyo Para sa Cebu event of the Cebu Business Month, told reporters that companies wanting to expand to other countries can do so easily, if they offer their brand for franchising.

Lim explained that in offering their brand for a franchise, a company can expand using a franchisee’s funds, time, effort and connections.

He noted that the high rental rates in Singapore may be too expensive for a Filipino entrepreneur, but a Singaporean can afford it. He also said the intricacies of governments of other Southeast Asian countries may be easier for its locals to get through.

Lim said many Cebu brands are poised to conquer the Southeast Asian market, naming several food, fashion and service providers as brands that are in the works to offer their brands up for franchise in and outside the country. These include Golden Cowrie, Bo’s Coffee, Dimsum Break, Ila Puti, Tablea, Dessert Factory, Choobi Choobi, Magic Melt, Pizzeria Michelangelo, La Vie Parisienne, Islands Souvenirs, Penshoppe, Islands Stay, ABBA Travel, Lifecare retirement homes and Body and Sole.

Lim said that for companies to survive an onslaught of foreign brands, they have to make sure their own brand is strong. “When all the foreign brands come in, the only people who will survive are the people who are branded. Any product that is not branded will die,” he told reporters.

To help entrepreneurs who own franchises of brands, officials of the PFA hope they will take time to attend a series of conferences they are holding in Manila.

Bing Sibal-Limjoco, vice chair of the PFA, said that as far as franchising is concerned, the Philippines is ahead of the other Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) countries, as it has 60 certified franchise executives recognized by the International Franchise Association. She assured that there is nowhere in Asia with that many franchise executives.

Innovations and IPOs

However, she said that despite this, they do not want to be overtaken and that they have arranged the Franchise Asia conference and expo to make sure local businesses are informed of the latest in the world of franchising. The conference and expo will be on July 16 to 20 at the SMX Convention Center.

Limjoco said they have invited a lineup of experts in the field, including best-selling author Greg Nathan.

Topics include prospects, challenges and opportunities of the economic integration of Asean, the next phase of retail innovations, international retail and shopping trends, conquering the market with brands, growing the business through initial public offering and other topics on franchising.

Limjoco said the discussions are designed to make Filipino retailers prepare for more competition.

She revealed that there is a huge interest from international brands in conquering the Philippine market. Their exhibit space has two pavilions for Singaporean brands, two from South Korea and other spaces booked by brands from Indonesia, United States and United Kingdom.

They are expecting between 800 and 1,000 participants to be at Franchise Asia.