With a wealth of experience, skills, resources and sustainable programs, SM has won-over generations of loyal customers and today leads the way in large-scale retail, malls, banking and real estate across the Philippines. The company is at the forefront of large-scale integrated projects that complement the opportunities found in the fast-emerging Philippines economy.
SM Retail’s operations are the largest and most diversified in the country founded on food (SM Markets, WalterMart, Alfamart), non-food (The SM Store) and specialty retail stores. One of the leading property conglomerates in Southeast Asia, SM Prime has residential offerings across the country through SM Development Corporation.
Earlier this year, SM Prime saw its market value reach P1 trillion, the first Philippine company to hit this milestone and the company is building on the success of its sixty hectare Mall of Asia Complex with the recently opened thirty hectare complex: SM Seaside City in Cebu. SM’s banking business consists of BDO Unibank, Inc., the country’s largest bank and China Banking Corporation.
Vice Chairperson of SMIC, Ms. Sy-Coson, one of Fortune’s fifty most powerful women in the world and Forbes Asia’s fifty top business leaders, is steering the group into the future while championing the Philippines’ economy. ‘Today in the Philippines, the economy is continuing to grow across all key sectors and the country is moving in the right direction’, says Ms. Sy-Coson who is also Council member of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines alongside Mr. George T. Barcelon of the Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Council, Chaired by Joey Concepcion, is tasked to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration and identify priority areas for consideration by ASEAN Leaders. ‘The country’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in this, the Associations fiftieth anniversary year, is helping to create awareness that the Philippines is an integral part of the ASEAN movement’, says Ms. Sy-Coson.
‘Today we are seeing an increasing number of interactions between the Philippines and other ASEAN member countries and we are working to further strengthen economic integration across the region. While geographically, the Philippines is further away from the ‘Asian-continent’ we have a wealth of knowledge to offer and a young population seeking more connectivity with our friends from the region’.
Ms. Sy-Coson is helping to increase the Philippines’ status as an increasingly important trade and investment partner for ASEAN member countries: ‘Investors have long taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the connectivity offered by countries such as Malaysia and Thailand. Today, there is growing interest in the Philippines as a place to do business as investors become more aware of the economic strengths of the country. We notice that Singaporean companies are increasingly interested in economic opportunities in the Philippines’.
SMIC’s commitment to the Philippines’ economy can be seen in the Group’s growing interests in large-scale retail, malls, banking and real estate and its role as a driver for growth. ‘In terms of real estate, property, the hiring of people, supporting suppliers and delivering solutions to service providers in local areas, we are a catalyst for the economy’, says Ms. Sy-Coson. ‘We facilitate business activities in the spaces in which we operate and we try to offer customers the same experiences consumers expect in other countries by developing premium shopping centres and providing quality services’.
By energizing the markets in which the Group is active, SMIC obviously attracts competition. However, according to Ms. Sy-Coson, this keeps everyone on their toes and empowers the industry – ultimately for the betterment of the community. Outside the Philippines, SMIC has also ventured overseas to China where the company has implemented a steady expansion plan. ‘We are doing well in China and by growing our business gradually in the Chinese market; we have not experienced disruptions and have been able to focus on our core businesses here in the Philippines’, says Ms. Sy-Coson.
Giving back to society is important in a country such as the Philippines and SM Foundation, the social development arm of the Group, focuses on the basic needs of the under privileged. ‘As we are serving the privileged side of the community through our businesses, so we want to support the under privileged’, says Ms. Sy-Coson. ‘We provide scholarships, education, healthcare and training for farmers and we are usually one of the first to mobilise aid when a natural disaster affects the Philippines’.
Similarly to many Asian economies, despite the inconveniences and the stresses of daily life, business is good in the Philippines. ‘The Philippines is a good place to be and has huge potential’, concludes Ms. Sy-Coson. ‘If you look for the opportunities, there is business to be done here and we want to encourage our friends across Asia to take a closer look at what the Philippines’ has to offer in terms of trade and investment while we strengthen our economic integration with our ASEAN partners’.