Jollibee, the Filipino fast food chain, will launch sites in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham following its UK debut in Earl’s Court last week.

Dennis Flores, Jollibee president and head of international business for the company, told MCA’s sister title BigHospitality that the group planned to become a major player, and compete with high street brands like KFC.

The opening on the former wagamama site on Earls Court Road, chosen because of the area’s high number of Filipino residents, and which saw reported queues of up to 18 hours long, is part of a plan to open 25 restaurants in the UK within five years.

While Jollibee will initially cater to the c300,000 Filipinos residents in the UK, he said he was confident the brand could convert non-Filipino customers.

“We’re very confident given our track record in Singapore and Hong Kong where over 50% of our customers are locals,” he told BigHospitality.

“We have over 100 stores in Vietnam where almost everyone is a local, and the feedback that we got from the London locals we invited to this launch today told us even more that we can and will be successful here.”

“The main companies here are undoubtedly ahead of us, but we want to be a major player,” Flores added.

“How major? We will see in the next 5 years. We are just humbled by the brand love and support, and will do our best not to disappoint our guests.”

Jollibee is best known for its chickenjoy fried chicken; jolly spaghetti which is topped with chopped up hot dogs; tuna pie; unusual breakfast dishes such as corned beef with garlic rice and egg; and rice served wrapped up in pucks.

The Jollibee group operates 2,700 outlets across the Philippines.

It owns most of the US chain Smashburger, operates Vietnam’s Highlands Coffee and Pho 24 noodle chains, runs Dunkin’ Donuts in some territories of China and the Burger King franchise in the Philippines.

In 2017 Jollibee held talks on buying Pret A Manger.