Before joining the family’s bakery business in 1985, Mr. Roberto Gandionco spent ten years as a marketing and sales professional with Union Carbide Philippines. His experience in preparing business plans and market studies for Union Carbide helped him think like an entrepreneur. When the time came for him to help expand their mom-and-pop operation, he was more than ready to assume the responsibility.
Julie’s Bakeshop first delighted Cebuano consumers with their tasty and affordable products in 1981. His mother, Julia “Julie” Gandionco, set up the bakeshop to supply her canteen concessionaire business. Seeing how she was profiting more from the bakeshop than the canteens, Mrs. Gandionco opened a branch near Aznar Coliseum.
When her son, Roberto, joined the business, the family already owned and operated 10 independent branches. Mr. Gandionco focused on how the family could support more branches by streamlining the business and centralizing purchases. He then established the training, marketing, and construction departments. To provide consistent quality products Mr. Gandionco decided to standardize the bakeshop’s recipes. When financing became an issue, the family created a sinking fund which would support bakery-wide projects.
By 1987, Julie’s Bakeshop had 27 branches in Cebu. Franchising to third parties began that year. They also opened a store in Iloilo, their first outside of Cebu. The chain expanded in Visayas and Mindanao, reaching Misamis, Davao, Butuan, and Leyte. By the mid-1990s, Julie’s Bakeshop opened its first store in Metro Manila. With stiff competition in Cebu, the Gandioncos offered full franchising support to its franchisees by establishing Julie’s Franchise Corporation, its franchising company, in 1997.
Julie’s Bakeshop now claims to be the largest neighborhood bakery chain in the country with almost 500 outlets nationwide (120 branches in Manila and 230 all over Luzon). The company has its own fully operational testing facility which churns out 250 varieties of baked products. The company’s ultimate vision is to have a Julie’s Bakeshop in every town. It is targeting 250 new outlets in 2006.
Under Mr. Gandionco’s leadership, the store received the 2004 Agora Award for Large-Scale Entrepreneurship and the 2004 Franchise Excellence Awards Special Citation for Inspiring Entrepreneurs. Gandionco was one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Entrepreneur 10” in 2003.