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Jollibee buys 10% stake in Botrista for $28-M

Jollibee [JFC 252.60, down 0.6%; 240% avgVol] [link] disclosed that it purchased a 10% stake in Botrista, a “leader in the beverage technology space”, for $28 million through its subsidiary, Jollibee Worldwide Pte. Ltd. (JWPL). According to JFC’s press release, Botrista “holds more than 100 patents globally for its proprietary dispense technology” that allows an automated system to prepare and sell “cold specialty coffee and tea-based drinks”.

MB bottom-line: The company’s tagline is “increase ticket size with craft beverages”, but this investment likely serves a dual purpose for JFC which is increasingly coffee- and beverage-focused. This isn’t a vending machine play. This is about putting a self-serve kiosk inside of an existing JFC branded location (JollibeeCoffee Bean and Tea LeafHighlands CoffeeMilkshaCommon Man, etc) and having consumers purchase and receive drinks directly from this machine without having to interface with a cashier, and without the location’s back-of-the-house staff needing to prepare the drink. So while it remains to be seen if ordering drinks from a robot will cause consumers to upsize and upsell themselves into spending more, at the very least you can bet that JFC is thinking of this as a way to cut operational costs and further streamline the on-premises dining experience. Not for the consumer, but for the company. It reduces the amount of preparation space needed for a location to serve specialty drinks, which increases the “potential paying customers per square meter” of each location. It reduces the number of touches needed to fulfill orders, which lowers headcount and increases profitability. Will customers like it? I get the feeling we’re about to find out.


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