By Arra B. Francia
Senior Reporter

ROBINSONS Retail Holdings, Inc. (RRHI) plans to spend up to P5 billion in capital expenditures (capex) this year for the establishment of up to 150 new stores.

In a presentation posted on its website, the Gokongwei-led retailer has programmed to spend P3.5 billion to P5 billion in 2019. The higher end of the range is 13% higher than the P4.41 billion it spent in 2018.

The listed company said it will add 120-150 new stores this year, after ending 2018 with 1,910 stores. Of these, 252 are supermarkets, 52 are department stores, 210 are do-it-yourself stores, 387 are specialty stores, 510 are drugstores, and 499 are convenience stores. It also has a total of 1,992 The Generics Pharmacy (TGP) branches.

RRHI’s entire network covers a gross floor area of 1.48 million square meters, excluding TGP.

The firm has set a target of 2-4% same-store sales growth (SSSG) against 2018’s blended SSSG of 5.9%. On a stand-alone basis, the supermarket business recorded the highest SSSG at 7.6%, thanks to a 1.5% uptick in transaction count and a 6.1% increase in basket size.

It further expects a gross profit margin expansion of 10 to 20 basis points in 2019.

RRHI also mapped out the rationalization and integration program for Rustan Supercenters, Inc. (RSCI), which was fully consolidated into the firm in November last year. The company acquired RSCI through an P18-billion share swap with Dairy Farm unit Mulgrave Corp. B. V.

The transaction placed RSCI’s total network of 80 stores, including Marketplace by Rustan’s, Rustan’s Supermarket, Shopwise Hypermarket, Shopwise Express, and Wellcome, under RRHI’s control.

The company highlighted four key areas of alignment for RRHI, namely merchandising, human resources, supply chain and inventory control, and procurement.

With the full-year consolidation of RSCI under RRHI, the company expects total net sales to rise this year.

RRHI signed franchise agreements for three new brands in 2018, namely Pet Lovers Centre for pet retail from Singapore, Arcova for mass merchandise from Hong Kong, and Club Clio for beauty products from Singapore.

The company also noted that its subsidiary Robinsons Supermarket Corp. invested P105 million through convertible notes in local tech start-up GrowSari, Inc., which provides grocery delivery services to sari-sari stores.

RRHI booked a net income attributable to the parent of P5.11 billion in 2018, 2.6% higher than the P4.98 billion it generated the year before. Net sales, meanwhile, improved by 15.1% to P132.7 billion.

The company’s portfolio includes Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Department Store, The Generics Pharmacy, South Star Drug, Handyman Do It Best, True Value, Toys “R” Us, Ministop, Daiso Japan, Costa Coffee, Savers Appliances, Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins.