By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

MERRYMART Grocery Centers, Inc. of businessman Edgar J. Sia II plans to open 10 stores this year before accelerating its expansion in the next decade.

“MerryMart is set to open its first 10 branches this year and we expect the rapid expansion to begin next year,” Mr. Sia said in an e-mailed reply to questions Wednesday.

The company opened its first MerryMart store earlier this week, located at the ground floor of DoubleDragon Plaza, DD Meridian Park in Pasay City.

“MerryMart emphasizes on providing the consumer a wide assortment of merchandise, maintaining competitive pricing and achieving excellent customer experience all the time,” MerryMart General Manager Ditas Taleon said in a statement.

Mr. Sia has set a “12-12-12 Vision 2030” target for MerryMart. This entails the rollout of 1,200 MerryMart branches nationwide in the next 12 years, with systemwide sales seen to reach P120 billion by the end of 2030.

The grocery retailer will have three formats depending on size, namely MerryMart Grocery, MerryMart Market, and MerryMart Store. The company expects to franchise the smaller formats to facilitate its expansion.

“We would like to take advantage of our group’s experience in franchising, and our familiarity of the Philippine market terrain, just like in the rollout of Mang Inasal, CityMall, Hotel101 and CentralHub network,” Mr. Sia said, referring to his businesses under listed firm DoubleDragon Properties Corp.

The opening of MerryMart marks Mr. Sia’s expansion of his family’s grocery retail business that started in Capiz.

“This is going back to our basics. My grandfather started his grocery store in the 1950’s in our hometown. My parents as well opened their own grocery business way back in 1989 and have been operating successfully for 30 years and counting. This background gives our family extensive experience in the retail business,” Mr. Sia said in a statement.

The company will also be setting up MerryMart warehouses and distribution centers to support the MerryMart retail shops. Mr. Sia said the intention is to locate them inside CentralHub warehouse complexes. DoubleDragon targets to have eight CentralHub locations by the end of next year.

“There are undeniable synergies between the real estate and retail businesses, and in our case, gladly the grocery retail have always been in our blood,” Mr. Sia said.

MerryMart is part of Injap Investments, Inc., also the parent of DoubleDragon. The company also owns People’s Hotel, a hotel targeted toward businessmen in Iloilo City; Hotel of Asia, Inc., which develops hotels under the Hotel 101 and JinJiang Inn; Deco’s Lapaz Batchoy, Inc., a restaurant with 10 stores in the Visayas region; as well as Mang Inasal Philippines, Inc.