SM Prime’s story begins with the vision of Henry Sy, who founded the first SM store in 1961. A quiet man who avoided publicity, Mr. Henry Sy was not big with words, but he was certainly big with dreams and visions. At twelve years old and with ten centavos in his pocket, the young Henry Sy migrated in 1936 to Manila, Philippines, from Xiamen, China. Buoyed by the dream of a new land and a dynamic life, this voyage would change not only his destiny but also the lives of countless Filipinos in the new country he embraced as his own.
“Hard work, unrelenting dedication to the business, and the boldness to venture into something new is Daddy’s ethic and worldview that permeated all our lives,” revealed daughter Elizabeth Sy in I Dream, a rare publication of Mr. Henry Sy’s life and work. “He has the passion to innovate, to change the rules midstream when necessary, and the relentless drive to make the dream even bigger.”
With Henry Sy as the Chairperson of the Board, SM Prime was incorporated in 1994 as the mall development arm of SM Investments. Corp. (SMIC) By the turn of the century, the company had quickly cemented its presence as the country’s leading shopping mall developer and operator with over 30 malls in the Philippines.
In 1997, the company launched its master plan for the Mall of Asia complex, its first large-scale, mixed-use development located on a 67-hectare prime property overlooking Manila Bay. In 2007, the company acquired three more malls in China on top of its existing three malls in Xiamen, Jinjiang, and Chengdu. These strategic moves allowed the SM Group to deftly reinforce its position as the leading developer in the Philippines while gaining traction in China’s fast-growing economy.
In 2013, the Sy Family consolidated its property assets under a more cohesive and strategic business house, aptly named SM Prime. The process combined the malls, residential company SM Development Corporation (SMDC), leisure property firm Highlands Prime, Inc. (HPI) and Costa del Hamilo, Inc. (CDHI), SM Hotels and Convention Centers Corp. (SMHCC)and privately held SM Land.
The restructuring made SM Prime the Philippines’ most prominent real estate developer and one of the largest in the region in market capitalization. With its enlarged scale and bolder vision, SM Prime launched a 400-billion-peso five-year plan in 2014 to nearly double its projects by 2019.
Today, SM Prime transforms ordinary parcels of land into sustainable properties in various locations and growth hubs across the archipelago. The company aims to reach a highly inclusive market base. It acquires and develops real estate, maintains and grows SM’s network of shopping and entertainment centers, and constructs and manages office spaces, residential condominiums, and hotels and leisure estates. All these developments are offered at the best possible price points to enable more Philippine households to actively contribute to economic growth and reach their lifelong goals.
As of December 2021, SM Prime has 78 malls in the Philippines and seven malls in China. Complementing these malls are 53 residential projects, 19 commercial projects, eight hotels, five convention centers, and three trade halls. SM Prime, alongside the SM Group, is the most significant contributor from the local private sector to the Philippine economy. Above its economic contributions, sustainability and socio-economic inclusion continue to be at the heart of its short-term to long-term prospects.
Inspired by Henry Sy, the company’s success is primarily driven by its unique ability to strike a delicate balance between quality and accessibility. As a result, SM Prime is now recognized in the Philippines for democratizing access to high-quality retail, home-ownership, and leisure and entertainment services, even as it constantly improves the quality and affordability of its products and services in quietly inventive ways.