From the world to Manila

July 16, 2012 / By  

Barely a month ago, top Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo’s tagline finally came true with the opening of its first store in the Philippines in the SM Mall of Asia. The entry of Uniqlo in the Philippines reflects the continued influx and expansion of new international brands in the country in recent years.

Whether clothing brands or food and beverage store chains, several notable international brands have opened their first stores in the country over the past three years. Examples include international brands such as Payless Shoe Source, Muji, Paris Hilton Bags, LeSportSac, Emporio Armani, Repetto and Tommy Hilfiger. Over time, some of these stores have expanded across shopping centres in Metro Manila. Among these international brands, one of the most promoted – American brand Forever 21, has three Forever 21 branches in Metro Manila with one more planned opening this July. Two years after introducing Forever 21, SM, through a joint venture with Fast Retailing Co, has now brought in Uniqlo.

However, fashion brands are not the only international names that have entered the Philippine’s market in recent years. Restaurant chains such as Bon Chon and Papa John’s Pizza have also expanded. The most visible international food chains that have actively expanded in the past couple of years are the milk-tea stores such as Happy Lemon, Gong Cha and Cha Time.

Mall developers welcome the entry of these international brands, as they contribute to the demand for retail space. As of 1Q12, the average vacancy in Prime shopping malls in Metro Manila was estimated at around 2.4%. This vacancy level is considered relatively low considering that there are about 4.0 million sqm of Prime retail space available in Metro Manila.

These new international brands have provided more variety for consumers in the Philippines. Looking ahead, we expect more new international brands as the SM Group delves even deeper into the retailing business. We will definitely see more Forever 21 and Uniqlo stores in the country. Meanwhile, property developer Ayala Land Inc (ALI) has recently entered into a joint venture with Stores Specialists Inc (SSI), the local distributor for high-end brands such as Prada, Gucci and Burberry. Although the joint venture is basically to support ALI’s retail developments, this new endeavour could potentially encourage SSI to bring in other international brands. If these developments continue, we could expect more of the world’s retailers setting up shop in Manila.

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