SM Investments bullish on retail, eyes provincial expansion

Philippine conglomerate SM Investments Corporation believes the country’s retail industry still has ample room for growth, driven by sustained economic development and consistent consumer interest.

Frederic DyBuncio, president of and CEO of SM Investments, shared that even during the height of the Asian crisis, household consumption in the Philippines has been resilient, driving sustained economic development.

“We are positive about our retail business, and we continue to be mindful of our customer’s needs as we offer choices that can match the size of their wallets,” DyBuncio said.

According to the company, discretionary spending in key categories, such as fashion, food and beverage, and entertainment, is driving consumption. 

At the same time, substantial remittances from OFWs (overseas foreign workers) support the country’s spending. BPO (business process outsourcing) expansion and an increase in employment is providing additional spending power to the younger population.

SM said it is expanding aggressively in provincial areas, pursuing opportunities for establishing retail formants in an underpenetrated market. More than 80 per cent of the company’s new stores are outside Metro Manila, with mall expansion geared towards provinces. 

Aside from retail, the conglomerate said housing also presents a huge opportunity. SMDC (SM Development Corporation), the company’s residential arm, is strategically growing its presence in provinces near its malls and transportation terminals.  

The company’s banking arm – BDO Unibank and BDO Network Bank – continues to add financial solutions and address unique banking needs in rural areas. For example, BDO’s Cash Agad allow convenient access to funds for daily expenses, emergencies, or business needs for communities in remote areas without traditional bank branches.

SM also invested in high-growth sectors such as logistics through 2GO, one of the country’s largest transportation and logistics providers, and Airspeed, an end-to-end logistics solutions and express courier company.

Regarding sustainability, the company recently invested in renewable energy supply through the geothermal firm Philippine Geothermal Production Company, supporting the country’s growing interest in green energy and sustainable development.

“Investors view us as a proxy because all of SM’s businesses touch the daily lives of millions of Filipinos,”  DyBuncio added.