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This is not a “nice” way of rediscovering Figaro, the local coffee chain known for promoting our very own coffee. I heard about this a week ago through a friend but I didn’t believe it yet – I had a chance to meet Pacita “Chit” Juan, a true coffee lover and until last year, was the CEO of Figaro, touted as the largest Filipino-owned chain of coffee shops. Through her I learned how the brand became what it is, and more than serving good coffee, how Figaro became a driving force in reinvigorating the Philippine coffee industry.

This morning, I received this in my office e-mail (I am not a direct recipient but somehow it got in my inbox, anyway),  detailing the “hostile takeover” of  Figaro – definitely the coffee there lost its aroma with this nasty, corporate goings-on. For the sake of those who believe in the brand and for what it has been doing to revive the dying coffee industry, I hope this battle will be over soonest.

Following is the e-mail in full text (with permission from the sender):

date: Tue, Jan. 20, 2009 at 8:41 AM



The country’s largest local chain is beset with a problem for its franchisees as funders under the guise of “investors” brazenly took over the operations to the disappointment of many franchisees and its loyal employees.

It was reported that a group running a pizza delivery chain paid P20 million to get in through an in-law of the majority stakeholder.

Employees and franchisees are crying “foul” as the new lender suddenly took the reins of the company’s operations last few weeks without notice of legality or due process.

It will be recalled that management of Figaro changed late last year and franchisees were waiting for the next steps of the majority stockholders when all of a sudden, a new investor came in and started running the company.

Employees are aghast at the management style and franchisees are in a quandary if the famous brand will like up to its history of good coffee and excellent service.

The company’s other stakeholders could not be reached for comment as they have reportedly already filed legal suits to protect their interests.

Meanwhile, franchisees and employees are in the dark on what is the next for the coffee chain. Figaro has over 60 stores and more than half of them belonging to franchisees. Famous franchisees are the Jaafars of Tawi-Tawi, the family of Chiz Escudero, the Villar family who all believed in the brand and what it stood for.

The franchisees hope that they could seek relief from the SEC or the IPO as the new investor has no access to the brand’s registered marks which the franchisees are guarding with their lives. Further, employees and resigned employees are seeking relief from the DOLE and NLRC as their termination pay has also been held by the new operator.


Written by Lynda C. Corpuz

January 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

23 Responses

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  1. new management equals bad coffee?



    April 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

  2. I went to Figaro lately. Nag iba na ang kape nila. Hindi na s’ya masarap. Bakit ganun?



    April 10, 2009 at 9:07 am

  3. Departments in in the Head Office are being Re-Cycled.
    Key Position(s) in ” critical ” depts. are being replaced with non-experienced employee hired by the new group.
    “Tapsilog “????? e di hindi na ito Figaro….
    the new group should’ve had put up a different business with that kind of menu line-up..
    tsk…tsk…i’d have goosebumps if this will push thru..



    April 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

  4. The coupons are distributed all over in office buildings where there are nearby company-owned stores, except franchised stores. The UP Techno hub is a franchised store. Owned by a doctor i think.
    They also sell them near LRT stations.



    March 31, 2009 at 4:01 pm


    After the change in management last December 2008 FIGARO employees went on mass leave to protest the actions of the new management . Even board-appointed CEO was not surprised as he has also been alarmed that even his own tenure is threatened.

    March 18, 2009 left the franchisees wondering why there was no response at Corporate office when they called to place their orders. It turned out to be a mass leave.

    The mass action started when a “supremo” sent text messages to the employees and successfully rounded up over 100 employees to go on mass leave of absence closing Figaro’s commissary, stockroom, and offices.

    Next will be the stores. It is indeed sad that such a model company would undergo a difficult process as employees are left without assurance that management will soon reform.

    Employees especially managers have decided just to file a mass resignation to shock management into making wiser decisions. Meanwhile, there is no more FIGARO brand to protect as its equity has been eroded since last year’s change in management. FIGARO has not been the same Figaro that people came to love for the last 15 years.

    Sadly Figaro has fallen.


    Carl Tan

    March 30, 2009 at 8:13 am

  6. Figaro is selling granton coupons for P399 a piece with all the free coffee and sandwiches. But patrons should beware. Read the fine print. It’s only valid at company-owned stores and there are only 2 free items!

    I think franchisees are forced to bear the cost of ridicule and bad faith when consumers realize that they have been duped.

    These Granton type schemes are really shady.

    They should have a DTI permit for such a scheme. Someone should inform the DTI so they can to investigate to put a stop to this “pyramid scheme.”



    March 29, 2009 at 10:10 am

    • Any source for this, Manny? We were at Figaro at UP-Ayala Techno Hub last Tuesday but didn’t get any of that coupon – is that branch a franchise? And please elaborate why is it a “pyramid scheme”?


      Lynda C. Corpuz

      March 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

  7. I am a follower of the brand like hundreds who knows coffee. And for me, no other coffeeshop makes a better cup of coffee than Figaro in the country.

    Whatever is happening internally, let’s just hope that better judgement and reason prevail. Franchisees and employees of the brand have a lot a stake here. They trusted the brand and they trusted the people who owns it and with this, trust and confidence are 2 things the owners should address to their franchisees and employees. Money and dedication were put in also by these people to help contribute to what Figaro has become.

    I guess each one in the board of directors has a hand in this trouble they’re in and it’s useless to point finger who did what. Bottomline is for them to fix the problem. Reconcile all their conflict and redeem what they have established for the past decade.

    This is my plea to the owners: Settle your quarrels. Save the brand. Save Figaro. Save the people caught in the crossfire.

    To the owners: You should love your own brand to save it. You did it once, it is not yet too late to do it again.

    Go Filipino! Go Figaro!



    March 23, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    • Thanks for the post, Jed. Hope those who are concerned read your thoughts about the brand.


      Lynda C. Corpuz

      March 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm

  8. nag-a-advertise na ng mga bakanteng posisyon ang Figaro. Mula manager hanggang lowest rank. Mukhang papalitan na ang mga tao ng mas mababa ang suweldo.



    March 22, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  9. this is from Business Mirror Online. I think it’s not good for Figaro’s image to give away coupons and sell tapsilog.

    Figaro Coffee Co. is now distributing coupons for free drinks in public markets. Figaro is, of course, now majority owned by husband-and-wife couple-Gerry Liu and Dr. Nelia Tan—who also bought the Domino’s pizza franchise from the Delgado family and rebranded it as Domino Café.

    Then again, given the hard times, even the company which started it all by selling ambiance rather than coffee, Starbucks, now sells instant coffee in the US.



    March 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

  10. walk out ang mga empleyado sa Figaro head office, commissary and warehouse ngayon. Sobra na ang management. Di na kaya ng mga tao.



    March 19, 2009 at 8:00 am

    • I’m sorry to learn about that, Nancy. Trying to search online for any news about this happening you’re posting here, but couldn’t find any report though?


      Lynda C. Corpuz

      March 21, 2009 at 12:59 am

  11. Im a franchisee of Figaro and guess what????!!!! Figaro will be launching its very own TAPSILOG!!!!! Where is the brand now?????? its not worth my investment!!!!



    March 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

  12. im a regular customer of figaro and its really sad to hear what is happening with the company. I heard that employees are complaining with the current management. Most of them are planning to resign and transfer to other coffee shops and restaurants. They are disappointed with the majority owners who took over after Chit Juan and much more disappointed with the current management (i think its foreigner ).

    Recently, i visited one of the figaro stores and i felt sad kasi wala ng buhay ang store. Gloomy…..

    I won’t be surprised if one day wala na akong kilala mga employees ng figaro stores.

    Poor employees. Poor franchisees. Poor brand.



    March 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm

  13. Figaro Coffee Corp. franchisees are reportedly puzzled. There’s talk the chief executive officer of Figaro is staying only until the end of the month, while the chief financial officer has already been fired.

    As everybody knows, ownership of the Figaro coffee chain has changed hands. Strangely, the sale didn’t include the chain’s trademark, which may imply the new owners are more interested in transforming the outlets into something else rather than in continuing the business.



    March 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm

  14. I know Chit Juan and I am a Franchisee! I am personally disgruntled and upset with what happened and still happening to FIGARO. I don’t think anyone has the right to just comment that what Ms Lynda Corpuz wrote is not true.
    If this Kim person is a franchisee or one of the board members, I might somehow just let her speak her mind but since she’s not, she’d better just shut her face because she knows nothing.
    She is not helping anyone here but rather an annoyance because her statement is not even supported by FACTS that only someone who is directly involved would know. This is not showbiz!
    What is involved here is not only business that took all of 15 years to build but family as well. Figaro is being ruined by sheer greed and envy! A sad state of affairs indeed!
    So now Kim, if you have nothing smart to say and if your comment stemmed from lack of information or lack of anything better to do, why don’t you try applying for a franchise and find out for yourself who’s mismanaging what.



    February 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm

  15. You are all welcome to comment on this post, but I still maintain though that whatever is happening to the coffee chain, hopefully, it should be solved the soonest.


    Lynda C. Corpuz

    February 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm

  16. really kim? who’s your friend na franchisee? the escuderos? villars? jaafars? I can tell you right now, none of them are happy. the pizza chain operator who came in as operator is known for not renewing franchises and actually buying profitable franchisees out!
    How can you say that Chit mismanaged it when Figaro did nothing but grow the whole time she was at the helm?
    Problems only arose when she left. There where no supply problems before. Franchisees were happy and the brand was always in the limelight.

    Where is the brand going now? Certainly not up.

    Seems you need to get your facts right Kim.



    February 6, 2009 at 4:59 pm

  17. hindi ito totoo. my friend is actually a franchisee of Figaro and sabi nya si Chit actually mismanaged the company a lot therefore she was ousted as CEO and the current management is actually helping to keep Figaro alive. don’t believe in rumors.



    January 30, 2009 at 12:19 am

    • Thanks for the comment, this will be another angle to the issue. I still maintain though that a brand like Figaro should be spared from any corporate goings-on like what’s happening with them.


      Lynda C. Corpuz

      January 30, 2009 at 12:25 am

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