SM Investments Corp. will soon convert its Makro stores into hypermarkets—outlets combining a supermarket and a department store—because the concept of wholesale buying no longer appeals to consumers, an official said yesterday.

The Sy family’s holding firm initially would convert three Makro stores in Novaliches, Makati and Mandaluyong into hypermarkets, said Robert Kwee, executive vice president of SM Hypermarkets.

“We will see first how things will develop,” he said.

Makro has 15 outlets that cater mostly to restaurants, caterers and mom-and-pop stores, but the idea of getting a membership card to buy wholesale in a Makro store was no longer attractive because of the economic slowdown, Kwee said.

Pilipinas Makro, which operates the Makro stores in the Philippines, originally was a partnership between the Sy family’s SM group, SHV Holdings N.V. of the Netherlands, and the Ayala group.

But in 2004 the Ayala group sold its 28-percent interest in Makro to its joint-venture partners, and in late 2007 SM Investments folded the Makro stores into its operations after it increased its ownership of Pilipinas Makro to 60 percent.

Makro also has outlets at the North Harbor, Cubao, Las Piñas, Cainta, Imus, Sucat, Cebu City, Davao City, Pampanga, Batangas City, Cagayan de Oro City and Iloilo City.

The three Makro stores aside, SM Investments also plans to put up three other hypermarket outlets in Fairview, Las Piñas and Quezon City this year.

The group will also open 14 more Savemore stores—smaller outlets that cater to customers’ day-to-day needs.

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