WFH prompts fix your home: Wilcon Depot sees 'good numbers' in Q3 with signs of recovery

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 09:00 PM

Wilcon Depot store in Antipolo. Photo: Official Wilcon Depot Facebook Page

MANILA - Wilcon Depot said on Monday it was expecting "better" third quarter numbers as people resumed in-store purchases immediately after the reopening in May.

All of its stores in the country are now operating, supplemented by its online channels that boost in-store sales, senior executive vice president and COO of Wilcon Depot Rosemarie Bosch Ong told reporters in a virtual stockholders' meeting.

"When we reopened in May, we did not expect that people would flock to our stores despite the restrictions. It was really a very encouraging May," Ong said.

"After the lifting of the MECQ [Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine], we see improvements in foot traffic and sales.
We’re still hopeful that it will give us better results, better than our August, definitely...I guess we can see some good numbers for the third quarter," she added.

Aside from higher foot traffic, sales in non-core items increased, which is another a sign of recovery, she added.

Vice President and Investor Relations Officer Mary Jean Alger said the forecast is that “we should be near or even higher than first half."

Wilcon Depot earlier said its net income fell 64.6 percent to P352 million in the first half of 2020 from P995 million during the same period in 2019 due to the temporary closure of majority of its stores from March to May meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Investing in e-commerce even before the pandemic helped the home improvement and construction supply chain, Ong said, adding that they were preparing for full digitalization.

Wilcon has introduced programs such as "browse and collect" as well as virtual store tours via Facebook messenger to engage consumers.

Wilcon Depot also saw a surge in sales from consumers forced to stay at home who were also driven to purchase new items for the work-from-home set-up or to fix whatever was needed to be fixed, President and CEO Lorraine Belo-Cincochan said.

"People locked up in their homes saw all 4 corners of their homes...Your home is now your restaurant, so you need to buy some extra furniture since everybody is living there," she said.

EXPANSION PLANS AND REVISITING WORKFORCE

The company has so far opened 4 new stores this year and is planning to open 2 more by the end of the year to bring its total to 63 this year, Cincochan said.

Although lower than its initial plans, the company said it would open 9 stores next year to make up for this year's lag.

Since the company is expanding, it is still generating employment and will not retrench employees, Ong said. However, Wilcon will "revisit" and optimize its operations, she added.

"We are not retrenching…We’re optimizing the right number, the right combination of workers in store. If there’s an excess, we can transfer them," Ong said.

In contrast, many companies suffered from net losses or slower growth in the first half when the hard lockdown was imposed beginning mid-March.

The Philippines fell into a recession in the second quarter when GDP growth fell 16.5 percent. The economy could shrink 5.5 percent this year, the government earlier said.