GENERAL SANTOS CITY—The SM chain of shopping malls is opening its largest mall in Mindanao in General Santos City early next year, Hans T. Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc., said on Monday.
Local businesses and mall owners who feel threatened by the P2.5-billion shopping center were assured by Sy that the SM mall would “enlarge the [local] pie and would not saturate the market.”
He said SM’s presence as a retailer would enlarge the retail sector in the city, citing its experience in Pampanga and Baguio, where SM “brought in the businesses from the nearby areas to the host city.”
“It’s not really a question of saturation; it’s about bringing excitement to local business,” he said.
As for fears of terrorist bombings that occasionally hit this southern city, Sy told reporters, “If we wait for the peace and order to be ensured, we would not be here now.”
Sy turned over to the city government an additional two lanes for San Miguel Street, which traverses the back portion of the mall, and spans 466 meters long. SM has also installed a P53-million drainage system, which would benefit a section of the city at the side of the SM mall in Lagao district, north of downtown GenSan.
The mall structure, now nearly finished, covers 150,000 square meters, bigger than the two SM malls in Davao City and the one in Cagayan de Oro City.
Sy said SM would also hire 8,000 personnel, which would help bring additional revenue for this city, which, Mayor Darleen Antonino-Custodio boasted, is the center of economic and financial activities in the region that includes Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.
Sy also said the SM mall would be designed differently, compared with its first mall in Ecoland, Davao City and in Cagayan de Oro City.
Aside from anchor stores that are common in most SM malls, new stores would be invited to display their products in the new mall. “The common stores would consist of 20 percent of store renters; the new ones 80 percent,” he said.
“We would be bringing in the lifestyle of Manila here, with the same price and style,” he added.
SM is eyeing two more malls in Mindanao within the next three years, he said, citing Zamboanga City and Butuan City as the most likely locations.
He said the acquisition of the land was yet to be concluded in Butuan City.
IN PHOTO -- SM Prime Holdings Inc. President Hans T. Sy poses in front of a billboard showing the architect’s perspective of SM’s mall in General Santos City. --MANUEL CAYON