MERRYMART Consumer Corp. is doing a P1.6-billion public offer of its shares by the end of the quarter, it said in a statement yesterday.

The grocery operator owned by businessman Edgar “Injap” J. Sia II said it had filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to offer 1,594,936,709 primary shares. The application was received by the SEC on Jan. 27.

MerryMart is selling the shares at up to P1 each. The offer period is targeted to be on March 23 to 27, and listing at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on April 2.

“We would like to take advantage of our group’s knowhow in franchising, and our familiarity of the Philippine market terrain, just like in the rollout of Mang Inasal, CityMall, Hotel 101 and CentralHub network. We believe this step will further strengthen the market grip of all the industries that our group is involved in,” Mr. Sia was quoted in the statement as saying.

MerryMart is a wholly owned subsidiary of Injap Investments Inc., Mr. Sia’s holding firm. It is also the founder of Mang Inasal Philippines, Inc. and has key shareholdings in listed DoubleDragon Properties Corp. in partnership with Tony Tan Caktiong’s Honeystar Holdings Corp.

It currently operates four full-size supermarkets and 27 branches are opening by the second quarter.

Proceeds from the initial public offering (IPO) will be used to support MerryMart’s expansion plans to cover various sizes of retail formats. These will be called MerryMart Store, MerryMart Market and MerryMart Grocery.

The company is targeting to have 600 branches by 2025 and 1,200 branches by 2030, which will rake P120 billion in systemwide sales revenue. It plans to build company-owned stores to establish its brand, but will also open the business to franchising.

“The 3-in-1 innovation and expansion through franchising is expected to bring in operational efficiencies and enable MerryMart to rapidly scale up and build up durable competitive advantage. Franchising also creates business opportunities for many budding entrepreneurs,” it said.

Other plans of the company are making its platform available online and setting up warehouses and distribution centers across the country.

“Our family initially had no plans to expand the retail business, but our recent experiences made us realize the need for us to be in the modern retail business, and we believe we will be in it while the transition from traditional retail to modern retail is still ongoing,” Mr. Sia said.

“Moreover there are undeniable synergies between the real estate and retail businesses. I will be glad to see both DoubleDragon and MerryMart to soon grow hand in hand and become formidable companies…,” he added.

PSE President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Monzon previously said he expects up to six IPOs this year from four IPOs in 2019.

The company tapped PNB Capital and Investment Corp. as lead underwriter, issue manager and bookrunner for the offering. — Denise A. Valdez