SM Malls studying Southeast Asia expansion: Sy-Coson

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 27 2017 04:08 PM | Updated as of Apr 27 2017 08:00 PM

MANILA – SM Investments Corp is studying bringing its shopping mall business to Southeast Asia, hoping to replicate the success of its retail business in the Philippines and China, a top official said Thursday.

Vice chairman Teresita Sy-Coson said the conglomerate would be “selective” in Southeast Asia, unlike in China, where a growing middle class flocks to its lifestyle malls.

“We are studying at this point,” Sy-Coson told ANC’s “Market Edge with Cathy Yang," when asked about a possible regional expansion.

“To go into the lifestyle mall, we really have to know the market. The market has changed because of digital. We’re studying all these different aspects before we make the move,” she added.

ONLINE SHOPPING AND LOGISTICS IN ASEAN

Sy-Coson acknowledged that online shopping is growing, but said the physical mall will unlikely be replaced by virtual stores soon.

“Some people will like to order from the comfort of their living room, some go to the mall to socialize and interact with other shoppers. We are going to cater to different ways,” she said.

SMIC recently partnered with online retailer Lazada and forayed into logistics with the acquisition of a stake in 2Go.

Sy-Coson said SMIC just happened to be there when an investor in 2Go wanted to quickly divest its share in the company. But she also said that SMIC wasn't keen on expanding its stake in the company.

"Our challenge is to see how we can reduce the cost of logistics by having more volume. So it is still very new at this stage," she said. 

Sy-Coson, who is part of ABAC or ASEAN Business Advisory Council, also said that ASEAN needed a "champion for logistics" as economies in the region bring down tariffs and harmonize non-tariff barriers to trade. 

She said that there is a need for all the logistics companies in the region to come together to help governments better understand the needs of the business.