• SM group enters convenience store business; opens Alfamart

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    (Reposting this story to correct 4th paragraph to read… opening five more trial Alfamart stores … instead of 10 more…)

    The Henry Sy family-led SM group has opened two new “trial” Alfamart mini marts in Cavite and Laguna in line with its plan to venture into the fast-growing convenience store business.

    Joey Mendoza, SM Supermarkets president, told The Manila Times that the SM group now has a total of five Alfamart stores. He declined to go into details, saying the business is “still in an experimental stage.”

    “All of it is still on a trial stage. It will take some time before they [Alfamart management] finally say that it will be a joint venture,” he added.

    Mendoza said the Alfamart store in Laguna opened in August and the one in Cavite opened this month. He said the group is looking at opening five more trial Alfamart stores before the year ends.

    The SM group has been in talks with Alfamart owner Djoko Susanto since early this year for a joint venture that will bring the Alfamart brand to the Philippines.

    Alfamart will be SM’s front in the fast-growing convenience stores arena, going against strong players such as the Ayala group’s FamilyMart, Puregold Price Club Inc.’s Japanese import Lawson, Gokongwei family’s Ministop, and market leader 7-Eleven by Philippine Seven Corp.

    In August, Mendoza said the three initial Alfamart stores were opened in Trece Martires, Las Pinas, and Dasmarinas, Cavite.

    Alfamart stores are in mini-mart or grocery format, which will offer a wide array of fresh choices such as vegetables, chicken and other meat products. It has mini counters where buyers can line up to pay for their purchases.

    Alfamart mini groceries are about 350 square meters big, and will eventually operate 24 hours.

    Mendoza said the company has yet to sign a joint venture agreement with the Alfamart group “hopefully this year.”

    Aside from the Alfamart stores, SM Retail Inc. has opened eight new stores in the first six months of the year, bringing the total to 249 stores consisting of 49 SM Stores, 40 SM Supermarkets, 41 SM Hypermarkets, 97 Savemore stores, and 22 WalterMart stores.

    SM Retail, under the umbrella conglomerate SM Investments Corp. (SMIC), holds the commercial retail businesses of the Sy family. Apart from SM retail, SMIC has property (SM Prime Holdings Inc.) and banking (BDO Unibank Inc.) interests, as well as other affiliates such as Belle Corp. and China Banking Corp.

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