METRO Retail Stores Group, Inc. reduced its net loss to P318.1 million last year, or an improvement of 29.2% from the earlier year’s P449.60-million loss, as sales grew with the eased pandemic restrictions. 

“Notwithstanding the disruptions caused by the typhoon, Metro Retail Stores’ stores in the Visayas demonstrated resilience as their sales generally improved in subsequent months. Both food retail and general merchandise businesses were flattish versus the same period last year,” the company said in a disclosure on Wednesday. 

“Despite the ease of mobility in the latter part of the year, stringent quarantine measures were reimplemented due to the increase in COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases across the country, while consumers continued to prune expenses to the bare essentials,” it added. 

Net sales for 2021 reached P31.21 billion, which the company said was “almost the same level” as the earlier year’s, while blended same store sales declined by 5%, but at a slower pace versus the prior year. 

Meanwhile, sales from its e-commerce business more than doubled in 2021 on the back of the growth from its online platform. Specific figures were not disclosed. 

Last year’s operating income, at P84.99 million, was a reversal of the P302.52-million loss in the previous year due to the decline in operating expenses. 

Metro Retail Stores said its operating costs decreased for two consecutive years as a result of its ongoing efforts to increase efficiency and implement cost-saving measures. 

In 2021, the company cut its operating expenses by 12.1% to P5.96 billion from P6.78 billion previously. 

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were at P1.22 billion last year, with cash reserves amounting to P1.67 billion to cover its current debt. 

The company’s board of directors also approved the implementation of a share buyback program of up to P300 million to enhance shareholder value and establish an executive stock option plan. 

Metro Retail Stores said it is continuing to invest resources in its omni-channel strategy to boost its physical and digital presence. 

It enhanced its e-commerce platform,, to improve customers’ shopping experience. 

“Among these upgrades are the dynamic search bar, shopping list function, ‘one basket’ feature, as well as the upcoming integration of the Metro Rewards Club program into the Metro online store,” the company said. 

Alongside its online store, Metro Retail Stores also offers mobile commerce with its Call-TextViber (CTV) service and partnered with e-commerce enablers such as online grocers and last-mile logistics providers. 

“As the country further reopens, Metro Retail Stores remains optimistic on the recovery of brick-and-mortar stores. The company affirms its commitment to expand its network particularly in the underserved areas and innovate the look and feel of its physical stores,” it said. 

In 2021, the company’s flagship store Metro Ayala Cebu Department Store completed its rebuilding and reopened its doors to the public, while four new stores were added, including Metro Danao Supermarket and Department Store, Metro Tacloban Department Store, and Metro Sum-ag Supermarket. 

At the stock exchange on Wednesday, Metro Retail Stores shares remained unchanged at P1.34 apiece. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson