Corporate News

By Krista A. M. Montealegre,
National Correspondent

Alfamart to open 120 Philippine branches this year

Posted on May 02, 2017

SM INVESTMENTS Corp. is expanding its mini-mart venture with Alfamart this year as part of the broader expansion of its retail business.

More branches of Alfamart are expected to open this year. -- ALFAMART FACEBOOK PAGE
Alfamart Philippines President Robert Kwee said in an interview the partnership plans to open 120 mini-mart outlets this year.

“So far, so good. We’re trying to open 10 (stores) every month,” Mr. Kwee said.

Three years since sealing a joint venture with Indonesia’s biggest mini-market chain operator, the company has built a network of 262 Alfamart stores in the Philippines, mostly south of Metro Manila.

“We have a few in the north but very little. We are in Cavite going down to Batangas. Metro Manila is very crowded,” Mr. Kwee said.

Alfamart stores offer basic goods, fresh meat, poultry and vegetables as well as food-to-go products.

SM operates the bigger retail formats in the Philippines such as the supermarkets, hypermarkets and neighborhood grocery stores so it is bringing in Alfamart to help them learn the business of running smaller store formats.

Retailers have been pursuing smaller store formats which enabled them to establish their presence in residential areas and become more accessible to consumers.

Outside the mini marts, convenience stores have become the battleground for retailers, which recently saw Lucio Co’s Puregold Price Club, Inc. tap Japan’s Lawson, and Ayala Land, Inc. bring in FamilyMart to challenge the market dominance of the Paternos’ 7-Eleven and the Gokongweis’ MiniStop.

“We’re not competing with convenience stores. We’re selling supermarket items and very low margin,” Mr. Kwee said.

At end-December 2016, SM Retail had a total of 2,110 outlets, comprising 57 department stores, 1,556 specialty retail outlets, 48 supermarkets, 44 hypermarkets, and 156 Savemore, 39 WalterMart and 210 Alfamart stores.

This year, SM plans to add two supermarkets, 15 Savemore stores and three hypermarkets to its network on top of at least seven new WalterMart stores that will be opened annually.

“In retail, we will widen market penetration across all our retail formats, especially catering to the evolving needs and preferences of our customers through diverse and quality produces and enhanced customer experience,” SM Executive Director Harley T. Sy said.

SM is also in the business of property and banking. Aside from its core businesses, the group also has portfolio investments in mining, logistics, gaming, infrastructure, and energy.