ONE of the largest homegrown coffee chains in the country, Bo’s Coffee, will focus on growing its branches in the country and, soon, overseas.

Steve Benitez, owner of Bo’s Coffee, said the company is keen on making its debut in the local stock market but he stressed they are still consulting financial advisers and investment firms about the possibility.

“There are no concrete plans yet, but we have talked to people on how we are going to prepare for an initial public offering (IPO) in case we want to do it already,” said Benitez in a recent interview.

Aside from branch expansion in key cities in the country, Benitez said he hopes to bring the Cebuano coffee brand to other countries with a large population of Filipinos, either through joint ventures or franchising.

Bo’s Coffee intends to end 2014 with a total of 70 branches. In two years, it hopes to grow its chain to 120 branches.

50 in the capital region

One of the areas Benitez is looking at expanding aggressively is Metro Manila. Although he already has 11 branches there, Benitez said the plan is to grow the coffee chain on the back of the growing population and business activities in Manila.

“I am setting up a permanent base in Manila so I can see the expansion myself,” said Benitez.

He plans to open a total of 50 stores in Manila in two years, either company-owned or franchised outlets. He said he is taking the aggressive expansion in the country of Starbucks, a Seattle-based coffee chain, as a challenge in terms of improving Bo’s offerings and services.

Bo’s Coffee was established in 1996 and has grown, according to Benitez, not only as a chain of coffee shops but also as an advocacy launch pad for social entrepreneurs.

“While we promote Bo’s Coffee as a Filipino brand, we are also taking with us other homegrown high-quality products of social entrepreneurs. We have made our coffee shops a launching pad for social entrepreneurs to plug-in their products to gain market access,” he said.

Benitez said there are about four to five Filipino brands that are being showcased in his coffee chain.

“I opened the stores to Filipino-made products that are globally competitive because they have direct benefits to the community,” he said.

With the full integration of Southeast Asian economies taking place at the end of this year, Benitez said he’s not afraid of tougher competition because Bo’s has established itself as a homegrown brand that knows the local market well.