MANILA, Philippines – Former politician and entrepreneur Manuel “Manny” B. Villar Jr is raring to pit his Starmall against the Goliaths in the retail industry.
“We hope to be a major player. We have enough properties. We’ll continue building a lot more malls,” says the chairman of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Incorporate and Starmalls Incorporated, Philippines in an interview with Rappler on the sidelines of the Forbes Global CEO Conference 2015 (which concluded on October 14).
Villar said the group has enough landbank to be able to double, even triple its gross leasable space in Metro Manila and even in the provinces.
A report by Agence France-Presse in July this year said that malls (dominated by Ayala, Robinsons, SM versus Starmall’s 4 malls) have long been a mainstay of urban Manila – “the capital has at least 153 peppering its skyline – the neon-lit consumer temples are now sweeping across the Philippine archipelago, penetrating even rural areas.” (READ: Eat, pray, shop: Philippine malls become the new town plazas)
And Villar thinks there is a demand for more malls in the country. “The consumer growth is just starting. I expect the growth to continue.” (READ: PH is Asia’s next shopping destination?)
“We’re very aggresive now. We feel there’s a huge demand to be filled up in housing, and even in malls. We still see a lot of demand for malls,” he said.
He added, “there’s really competition. And we’re prepare to compete.”
Villar said his group has prime properties in Metro Manila, along with a very strong presence in the countryside because Camella Homes is located in 92 cities and municipalities.
“And we have a mastery in these areas and we’re very confident in putting anything in these [locations]. There are some areas we can already put up malls, retail spaces, [and] housing projects.”
Villar said Starmall is expecting to complete 5 malls toward the yearend, and eyeing to add 3 to 4 malls every year.
“Every year we can expect a much higher growth rate for our leasing operations,” he said.
Apart from Starmall, Villar is also bent on growing his own chain of convenience stores, All Day, again, a David in a space ruled by foreign heavyweights 7-Eleven, Ministop, Family Mart, and a new player, Alfamart. To date, All Day has about 100 stores nationwide.
“I like the challenge. A lot of big companies started small. SM started as a small department store,” he said.
Based on his entrepreneurial success, Villar said, “you can be the David and you should not be afraid of Goliath.” (READ: Entrepreneur Manny Villar: ‘I don’t like politics anymore’)
He said being a latecomer is also a good thing in the retail landscape ruled by legacy players.
“f your business has been around for long, yes you’re ahead, you have a big market share, but that’s also a liability. If you’re new and small, you can incorporate the latest trends (that consumers look for),” Villar said. – Rappler.com