(Source: Business Mirror | February 20, 2018)
Rustan Supercenters Inc. (RSI) officially broke ground on Tuesday for its first Shopwise outlet in Batangas as the retail chain sets its sights to expand further in Southern Luzon, particularly in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) area.
“With the development of residential and commercial properties, plus the Grand Terminal, I think its really a perfect time to develop a retail establishment here,” RSI CEO Irwin Lee said.
The store is at a property that it will lease from the Batangas Ventures Properties & Management Corp. With a total land area of 11,000 square meters, the store would rise at the Grand Terminal along Diversion Road, Barangay Alangilan in Batangas City.
“I believe this is a ‘win-win’ for everybody. It will help the commuters and travelers, the people who live closer here and those who are trying to live away from the congested area [of Metro Manila] to have a good option for shopping,” Lee said.
Without citing the exact figures, Lee added the company is investing “close to half-a-billion pesos” to develop the entire property, hire around 130 direct employees and also for the goods it will offer in the store.
Since Batangas is among the “food baskets” in the region, Lee said this outlet would be fit for RSI’s program to locally outsource the supply of products it sells.
“We are one of the retailers who try to develop direct relationship with suppliers, farmers, fruits and vegetable growers, dairy farmers [and] meat and poultry producers. That’s the idea—to help the local economy, as well,” he said.
According to Lee, this will be again the first time the company will be developing in the segment after four years that it already set up 12 Shopwise standalone branches nationwide.
The Shopwise Grand Terminal, he noted, will be the second new store set to open in the third quarter of 2018.
“We’re already constructing [another hypermarket] in Lancaster City along the intersection of Imus, General Trias and Trece Martires in Cavite, which we hope to open in the second quarter of this year,” he revealed.
“We’re also looking at some areas North of the National Capital Region—Pampanga, Bulacan and Pangasinan. But those may not make it for this year. So, we’re really on a very aggressive expansion [mode],” he added.
Bullish on the growth of the local retail industry, Lee expects such initiatives will help drive the company to achieve its business goals.
Last year he said that the sales of Rustans supermarkets and Marketplace by Rustan’s grew by about 10 percent, while those of Shopwise Express and Wellcome rose by 25 percent.
The Shopwise hypermarket, nevertheless, hiked only by 1 percent, since no expansion took place.
“The other thing also that happened last year was we closed the Shopwise Libis store. The lease period finished, so the landlord chose to develop something different,” the CEO said.
With new outlets in the pipeline, RSI hopes to achieve a 10-percent increase in sales by end of 2018, sustaining the “double-digitd growth in 2017.
“Starting [the period of] January-February very strong, we’re ahead of our target. And because we opened about 18 supermarkets and neighborhood stores last year, their contributions will begin to add on to our [sales this year]. As we want to open close to 20 [stores across all formats] this year, we see the growth accelerating,” Lee stressed.