malls in the Philippines

SM Prime opens first ‘Singapore-style’ mall in Philippines

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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SM Prime opens first ‘Singapore-style’ mall in Philippines

SM Prime opens SM City Sto. Tomas in Batangas province, its 85th mall in the Philippines, on October 27, 2023.

Screenshot/Sto. Tomas Mayor Arth Jun Aguilar Marasigan FB

(UPDATED) SM opens its first 'Singapore-style' mall in the Philippines on Friday, October 27, with parts of its architectural design patterned after Changi Airport

MANILA, Philippines – Just two weeks after opening a new mall in the Philippines, Sy-family led SM Prime Holdings Incorporated opened its 85th mall in the country on Friday, October 27, in Batangas.

SM Prime executive committee chairman Hans Sy Jr., SM Supermalls President Steven Tan, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas, and Sto. Tomas City Mayor Arth Jun Marasigan were among those who opened SM City Sto. Tomas supermall on Friday morning to hundreds of mall-goers. 

GREENS. A giant green plush cat and other greens adorn the concourse of the new SM City Sto. Tomas in Batangas City which opened on October 27, 2023. Screengrab from Batangas PIO 

SM City Sto. Tomas is located along the busy Maharlika Highway in Barangay San Bartolome, Santo Tomas City, Batangas, south of the capital. 

“We are delighted to open SM City Sto. Tomas this Friday to add more fun and excitement to the thriving City of Sto. Tomas in Batangas. We are making sure that this newest shopping, dining and entertainment hub will provide its guests with SM’s well-loved brand of service and convenience that will be beneficial to our fellows in Batangas, most especially this coming Holidays Season,” SM Prime President Jeffrey Lim, who also graced the opening, said.

SM City Sto. Tomas is SM Prime’s fourth supermall in Batangas after SM City Batangas, SM City Lipa, and SM Center Lemery. 

Based on the 2020 Census, Batangas is the 8th most populous province in the Philippines with 2.9 million people. 

Prior to Friday’s opening, SM gave Mayor Marasigan an exclusive sneak peek into its newest mall. Watch in this video below:

Cristina Daluz-Jamandron, public relations manager of SM City Sto. Tomas, said some of the mall’s features give a “Singapore feel.”

Ito po ‘yung pinaka una na modern, Singapore-style [mall] of SM. ‘Yung architectural design is para tayong nasa Changi Airport,” she said in the video, adding that SM also incorporates sustainability principles in its business just like Singapore’s famous airport. The mall overlooks Mt. Makiling in Laguna province.

(This is the first modern, Singapore-style mall of SM. It’s architectural design is like we’re in Changi Airport.)

SINGAPORE-STYLE. SM City Sto. Tomas in Batangas has a ‘Singapore feel’ as seen in the mall’s entrance. SM Prime’s newest mall opens on October 27, 2023. Screengrab from an FB video of Sto. Tomas Mayor Arth Jun Aguilar Marasigan

The mall has as one its tenants Fully Booked. It is the bookstore’s first outlet in Batangas province and its second in the Southern Tagalog region, after the branch located in Santa Rosa, Laguna, which opened last June.

SM Prime opened its 84th mall – SM Center San Pedro – last October 13, in Laguna, also south of the capital. 

In addition to these two new malls opened this month, SM Prime opened SM City Bataan in central Luzon in May for a total of three new SM malls in 2023.

These three malls add 140,000 square meters of gross floor area (GFA) to SM Prime’s mall portfolio. 

SM Prime has an available land bank of 349 hectares for malls in the next five to seven years. Of the total land area, 325 hectares are in the provinces, while 24 hectares are in Metro Manila. 

Malling phenom

SM Prime is the Philippines’ largest mall developer and operator. Its 83 malls as of mid-2023 had a total GFA of 9.1 million square meters.

The newest mall of the Sy family is its 61st in provincial areas. SM Prime has 24 malls in Metro Manila. 

Since the Philippines has very few public parks, malls have become Filipinos’ favorite place to cool off, eat, shop, and hang out with family and friends. 

Many SM malls also have government tenants that citizens transact with such as the Land Transportation Office for driver’s license, Department of Foreign Affairs for passport services, and the National Bureau of Investigation for job clearances.  

SM Prime’s 83 malls as of June 2023 had an average daily pedestrian traffic of 3.4 million people. It is the country’s largest cinema operator with 384 screens combined in these malls.

According to SM Prime, its mall expansion is now “geared towards the provinces,” especially Northern Luzon, Visayas, and “progressive cities in Mindanao.” 

SM also operates seven malls in China: SM City Xiamen, SM City Jinjiang, SM City Chengeu, SM City Suzhou, SM City Chongqing, SM City Zibo, and SM City Tianjin. Average daily pedestrian count in its China malls is only 300,000. 

Rental income from its Philippine malls went 42% from P18.5 billion in first half of 2022 to P26.3 billion in 2023. Cinema, ticket sales, and other revenues increased by 156% from P2 billion to P5.19 billion in the same period. 

SM opened its first mall – SM North Edsa – in 1985 when the Philippine economy was in a crisis following the political instability brought about by the assassination of opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in August 1983. 

MEGA. SM Megamall with its new wing, in Mandaluyong City. File photo

Six years later, it opened its then-largest mall, SM Megamall, which, SM Prime says, “spearheaded what is now known as the malling phenomenon in the Philippines.” 

In the first half of 2023, SM Prime’s malls business accounted for 58% of the company’s total revenues, while residential business made up 32%. 

SM Prime, one of the major integrated property developers in Southeast Asia, reported a net income of P19.4 billion in the first six months of 2023, 38% higher than the P14 billion in in the same period in 2022. –

LOOK: This mall has K-pop indoor skating rink, mini golf course, arcade, basketball court and more

LOOK: This mall has K-pop indoor skating rink, mini golf course, arcade, basketball court and more

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.