PH retail industry seen to grow in ASEAN integration

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez,

Posted at Mar 20 2014 03:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2014 02:04 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s retail industry may see a boost once the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional economic integration begins next year.

The SM Group’s Teresita Sy-Coson believes that more retail brands from the country’s ASEAN neighbors, particularly from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, may soon enter the Philippine market with the integration.

“We are going to have more ASEAN brands in the future, there will be people coming in and I guess retailers will be able to go out to the ASEAN countries as well,” Sy-Coson said at the sidelines of the 17th Outstanding Filipino Retailers and Shopping Centers of the Year Awards Night.

Sy-Coson was honored by the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) at the awards night and was presented the President’s Award as “Philippine Retailing’s Woman Visionary Leader.”

She said that with the ASEAN integration, she expects the country’s retail industry to be more competitive against foreign brands.

“It will be more exciting to see our people leveling up. It will be an interesting landscape,” she said.

“I think there will be growth in the retail industry. The retail will always be growing, it will be changing, so I think we will be having a more exciting time in the retail environment,” she added.

Sy-Coson, the chairperson of SM Investments Corp., said the key drivers in the growth are new brands, concepts and retail trends.

“The trends keep on changing and of course there’s e-commerce and digital marketing, so it’s going to be different from years back,” she said.

She added that SM’s goal is to continue to be in the forefront of innovations and trends in the retail industry.

“What we like to do is to be the catalyst for the innovations and the retail trends. I think so far, we have been able to do so and we wish that we could continue to do that. Although a lot of people are very innovative right now, and they’re very good at what they do. There are a lot of newcomers who are very good in this industry,” she said.

Local retailers

Despite the rise in foreign brands, Sy-Coson does not expect local retailers to be affected, saying the ratio between foreign and local has always been evolving through the years.

“We should always have local retailers, and the local retailers will also expand because as manufacturing will evolve differently, some of them will come to Philippines again, so we will have good sources in the future for local retailers,” she said.

PRA President Lorenzo Formoso is also optimistic about the country’s retail industry, especially since winning the bid to host the Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition (APRCE) in 2015.

“The APRCE is the biggest and most important retail event in the region. As host, we will be able to showcase the reasons why it’s more fun in the Philippines whether it’s because of tourism, shopping or investments,” Formoso said.

The last time the Philippines hosted the APRCE was in 1993, when Sy-Coson held the position of PRA chairperson.

Formoso also highlighted the importance of giving recognition to the country’s top retailers because “it gives the local retailers a chance to really search for excellence, to be able to compete internationally.”

PRA will host the APRCE on October 26 to 30, 2015 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. More than 3,000 participants from Asia-Pacific countries are expected to join.

“We need to continuously get to level where we are competitive. The Philippine Retailers Association is preparing for the APRCE conference that will happen in 2015 and that’s when all these Asia Pacific retailers will be coming here for the convention and we will be able to showcase our retail and Philippine tourism,” Formoso said.