SM, Robinsons, Rustan's bosses among PH 'retail icons'

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2018 05:35 AM | Updated as of Feb 28 2018 09:16 AM

The Philippine Retailer's Association honors 12 "retail icons" to mark its 40th anniversary. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Twelve icons of retail, whose empires defined how Filipinos shop for everything from headache medicine to engagement rings, were honored by an industry group late Tuesday. 

The stories of the tycoons, some of whom started poor, showed how retailers can succeed and keep customers with dedicated service, notwithstanding the threat of e-commerce on brick and mortar stores, said Philippine Retailers Association chairman Lorenzo Formoso. 

"We’re still bullish and we’re still expanding. We like to serve as much customers as we can," SM Investments Corp vice president Teresita Sy-Coson, one of the honorees, told ABS CBN News.

Sy-Coson's father and co-honoree, Henry Sy Sr, founded SM Supermalls, the shopping mall empire he built from a shoe store in old Manila. The SM group now also owns the country's largest lender, BDO Unibank, and its property arm also builds condominiums and resorts.

The 12 icons were featured in a coffee table book called "Legends, Lives and Legacies," which the retailers' group released as part of its 40th anniversary. 

“Brick and mortar retailing is still growing. People still want tactile experience, shopping physically but e-commerce is growing also because of convenience. It's a concern but we have a lot of retailers adapting to e-commerce as well,” PRA president Paul Santos said.

The honorees include:

HENRY SY SR. The country's richest man according to Forbes Magazine was named "Father of Philippine Retailing." He is the chairman emeritus of SM Investments Corp.

FERNANDO ZOBEL DE AYALA. The president of Ayala Corp was named "Pillar of Philippine Retail Development." Ayala Malls are known to incorporate lush green and museum spaces. 

JORGE ARANETA. Dubbed "Pioneer of Retail Entertainment," his family owns an eponymous commercial center in Quezon City. The Araneta Center, home to the Araneta Coliseum and Ali Mall, the country's first mall, is now also home to a hotel and BPO offices. 

SAMMIE LIM. The "Pioneering Pillar of Franchising" managed both family-owned appliance stores Abensons and Automatic Center before he founded Blim's Furniture. 

SOCORRO RAMOS. The "Matriarch of Philippine Retailing" is the founder of National Bookstore, the country's largest books and office supplies chain. Her employees call her "Nanay Coring."

JOHN GOKONGWEI JR. The "Champion of Retail Entrepreneurship" owns the Robinsons mall chain, snack food giant Universal Robina and Cebu Pacific, the country's largest airline. 

BIENVENIDO TANTOCO SR. The "Father of Luxury" retailing founded Rustan's Department Store. His Store Specialists Inc brought to the country, among others, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Givenchy, Prada and Tory Burch. 

MARIANO QUE. The deceased founder of Mercury Drug was named "Father of Health and Wellness Retailing." 

TERESITA SY-COSON. The eldest daughter of tycoon Henry Sy Sr., who helps oversee his business empire, was named "Philippine Retailing's Woman Visionary Leader." 

ANDREW TAN. Named "Pillar of Mixed-Use Developments," his Megaworld townships combine condominiums, hotels, shopping malls, office spaces and most recently, casino-resorts.

LUCIO CO. The "Patron of Micro-Retail Entrepreneurship" owns hypermarket chain Puregold.

WILLIAM BELO. The chairman of Wilcon Depot, a one-stop construction and home supplies mega store, was named "Patriarch of Home Building Retail."