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Lazada, the leading ecommerce platform in Southeast Asia, owned by Alibaba Group, plans to expand its cross-border trade for international brands.

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The Philippines’ second largest retailer is expanding towards new geographic locations by opening stores and acquiring grocery retail chains nationwide.

New stores opening

The group is to open 25 more stores and four S&R membership warehouse stores this year. The four S&R membership warehouse stores to be opened this year will be located in Metro Manila, Southern Luzon and outside Metro Manila. This wholesale membership format specialises in imported brands from the US and has over 600K active members. It is modelled on the Costco operation system.

In the past few years, Puregold Price Club Inc. has been opening 25 Puregold stores annually. As of end September 2018, the group has a total of 397 stores nationwide, including 345 Puregold stores, 16 S&R membership shopping warehouses and 36 S&R New York style outlets.

Active acquisition

Meanwhile, Puregold has been aggressively acquiring grocery chains. The recent acquisitions include NE Bodega supermarket in Nueva Ecija (nine stores), Budgetlane supermarket (eight stores) and B&W (5 stores) in Roxas City, Capiz.

Puregold last week successfully raised P4.69 billion through an overnight placement from 104 million shareholders at P45 per share. The company said it would use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, capital expenditure and potential acquisitions.

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After 180 stores opened this year, more are planned in 2019.

Continue to make inroads

Indonesian mini-market operator, Alfamart, proposes to open 200 new stores in the Philippines in 2019. Alfamart currently has more than 500 stores in the country, located mainly in residential areas. The new planned stores will bring Alfamart’s Philippine store network to more than 700 by end of 2019.

Similarities between the two countries

The Philippine and Indonesian markets share similaries, which work to Alfamart’s advantage. Both have young populations and expanding middle classes. In both markets, shopper prefer to buy small packaged goods frequently rather than filling large baskets and weekly grocery carts.

Untapped sector

The mini-mart sector in the Philippines is seen as an untapped sector with little competition. Unlike convenience stores, Alfamart also carries fresh and frozen food. Its product range is more extensive than that of a typical convenience store (see photo below): 


Source: IGD Research

Alfamart’s risk in the Philippines is also mitigated by its majority stakeholder, SM Retail. SM operates 1729 stores nationwide in the Philippines. Alfamart will benefit from its large business network and high brand awareness.

Alfamart sees that it has more potential in the Philippines than other Southeast Asian markets, such as Thailand and Vietnam.

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South Korean discount chain operator Emart signed an agreement with the local retailer Robinsons to launch two of its private labels in the Philippines.

Expand global presence through private labels

Under the agreement, Robinsons will set up and operate 25 Emart “No Brand” and 25 “Scentence” stores by 2020. No Brand sells daily necessities and food items. Scentence is Emart’s beauty brand. Emart will be paid a licencing fee and profit from the export of products to the stores.

This deal sees the Emart business expands from the Central Asia (two Emart stores in Mongolia) and the Middle East (one Scentence store in Saudi Arabia) to South East Asia.

Growing popularity of No Brand

Around 70% of No Brand goods are manufactured by local small enterprises in South Korea. The brand has been so successful that stand-alone No Brand stores have been opened.

The launch of No Brand stores in the Philippines will be its first overseas expansion. According to Emart, outbound shipments of No Brand products jumped by 57.8% year-on-year during January to October this year.

Diversifying global portfolio

Emart says it plans to develop Scentence beauty products that fit well with the climate of the Philippines to in order to boost its competitiveness.

“The deal to launch No Brand and Scentence in the Phillipines is meaningful to us in that it diversifies our global portfolio for specialized stores,” said Lee Joo-ho, who heads Emart’s global business.

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Robinsons, one of the leading grocery retailers in Philippines, reported a 9.8% increase in net income in the third quarter of this year.

Robust like-for-like growth

The growth is attributed to opening of new stores as well as robust like-for-like sales growth, which is up by 6.6% vs. the same period last year.

Good performance across all formats

Good performance can be observed across all Robinsons’ formats, in terms of like-for-like growth:

  • Supermarkets sales up by 8.6%
  • Speciality store sales up by 7.8%
  • Convenience stores sales up by 4.5%
  • Drugstores sales up by 2.9%
  • Department stores up by 2.4%

Supermarkets account for 46.5% of the group’s total turnover and also have the fastest growth rate of all formats. Earlier this year, the acquisition by Robinsons of a 100% stake in Dairy Farm’s Rustan Supercenters has been approved by the Philippine Competition Commission, and the deal is currently being completed.

Up to date, Robinsons has 158 supermarkets, 368 speciality stores, 496 convenience stores, 499 drugstores and 51 department stores. Robinsons’ overall floor area increased by 9% year-on-year.

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This in-depth guide to the Philippines explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

Five year growth forecasts for the grocery market, the leading retailers and modern trade grocery channels in the Philippines.

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