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real stories on Cebu's business landscape…

Industry players foresee sustained demand for tiles

Sun.Star Cebu <> Thursday, July 9, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

RESPONDING to customers’ clamor for housing solutions, Cebu Oversea Hardware Co. Inc. inked a pact with Malaysia-based tile manufacturing company White Horse Malaysia last week to distribute the latter’s products in the Philippines.

“The demand for tiles in the local market will always be there because houses are being built. It is just a matter of buying the cheapest, the mid-range or the expensive one. The purpose of distributing White Horse is to offer the public European quality products at affordable prices,” said Michael Co, chief executive officer of Cebu Home and Builders Centre.

Cebu Oversea Hardware owns and operates Cebu Home and Builders Centre, a one-stop shop of building materials. It also owns and manages other furnishing and finishing stores, including Expo Tile and Bath and Home Improvement Center, Living ‘n Style, The Home Depot, and Better Living Tile and Bath Center.

Cebu Oversea Hardware will be the sole Philippine distributor of White Horse Malaysia tiles.

Cebu Home and Builders Centre general manager James Co added that the company is also trying to create a demand for White Horse tiles among home builders and
home- owners by providing virtual solutions.

Virtual showroom

In collaboration with Cebu Oversea Hardware, White Horse is setting up a “virtual showroom” showcasing panels of tile samples and the “Just Click” computer software that will allow customers to see different design concepts of tile samples.

The virtual showroom, equipped with a design program called “I-Designer,” will also enable customers to design their rooms on the computer and have them printed out on the spot.

Lawrence Lim, White Horse Malaysia regional manager for overseas branches, said the exclusive value-added service is available at no extra cost to the customer.

This virtual showroom will be set up at The Home Depot outlets in Metro Manila and at the Expo Tile and Bath and Home Improvement Center in Parkmall, Mandaue City.

White Horse products will also be available in these stores and other stores under Cebu Oversea Hardware. They will be distributed to key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.

White Horse plants in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam produce a combined 60 million square meters of tiles per annum.

It plans to put up a new manufacturing plant in the Asia-Pacific to meet the growing demand for tiles. The Philippines, with its growing population and high preference for quality products, is being considered as a potential site for White Horse’s manufacturing operations.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Export Sector, Real Estate, Retail

Wholesaler opens retail store for home finishing, furnishing

Sun.Star Cebu <> Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A WHOLESALE distributor of home furnishing and finishing products in the Visayas and Mindanao has put up a new store in Highway Maguikay, Mandaue City to cater to the growing construction industry in Cebu.

Home Options Inc. will formally open today Savers Home Depot, a 2,100-square-meter retail store that displays various home products, including tiles, lighting, water faucets and vanities.

“As the company grows, we see big opportunities in Cebu where the construction business is growing,” Home Options Inc. president Kendrick Sulay told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said the company invested around P20 million on the store, including its stocks.

There are plans to put up more Savers Home Depot stores in the northern part of Cebu.

“The south, where there is a very big market, is already congested, and there are many competitors located there.

The market for construction in the north, on the other hand, is growing,” Sulay said.

He remains optimistic amid the global financial crisis that is affecting consumer spending, saying the market is still very big and there is still room for more suppliers and distributors.

Apart from plans of expanding to the north, Savers Home Depot will also partner with developers and homeowners associations.

Savers Home Depot, Sulay said, is being positioned to target classes B and C and “a little of class A.”

The store’s “boutique” layout was created to attract more customers and give them home design ideas.

“When a customer comes in, he will immediately see our products, like lights and furnishings imported from China and Malaysia, among others,” Sulay said.

Another part of the store is the Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y) section that Sulay plans to expand, depending on the market response.

Savers Home Depot soft-opened last June 20. Its mother company, Home Options Inc., started in March 2005 and continues to distribute home-related products on a wholesale basis outside Cebu.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Real Estate, Retail, Small and Medium Enterprises

SM wants another mall

Sun.Star Cebu <> Monday, July 6, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A SECOND SM mall for Cebu by 2011.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) president Hans Sy made the disclosure, adding that the company is in the middle of negotiations for the possible acquisition of three separate properties in Cebu where the company plans to build one more mall.

“I should say (there will be) good news toward the third quarter (this year). By then, we should be closing some deals, although (we) cannot promise you that we will be able to acquire all three properties,” Sy told a press conference Friday.

At first, he declined to reveal the location of the three properties, but he admitted later that one of the sites is the South Road Properties (SRP), the 300-hectare reclamation project of the Cebu City Government.

“It would be very ideal to close all three. I wish I could take all three. If I can, I would. Hopefully, it would include the SRP. That is how bullish we are with Cebu. We already acquired a new site in Davao and General Santos, so why not (also) look at Cebu when it is among the best in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Sy said.

2011 opening

Once it closes a deal, SMPHI will immediately start construction and open a new mall “within 18 to 30 months.”

If it closes all three deals, SMPHI will simultaneously build three SM mall branches and open them by 2011.

For each development, SMPHI will implement a “formula” of starting on an area of 80,000 to 85,000 square meters before upgrading it into a mall occupying 200,000 square meters—about the same size as SM City Cebu.

“Definitely, we have to have at least a second mall in Cebu.

The locations we have identified are very ideal and have the (potential) for expansion,” Sy said.

He believes that Cebu is ready for more malls, saying there is enough market despite the global financial crisis.

In 2007, Sy disclosed plans of building two future malls in Cebu—each expected to cost P1 billion—once SMPHI has found land for the projects and after the completion of the SM City Cebu Northwing.

Offer

In October last year, the Cebu Investment Promotions Center, the marketing arm of the SRP, disclosed that SMPHI made an offer to buy a 20-hectare parcel of land at SRP for a mixed-use development project.

Meanwhile, SMPHI will open this year a supercenter in Las Piñas and a shopping center in Cavite, bringing the total number of SM malls nationwide to 36.

Next year, the company targets to open four malls, all in Luzon. Construction of SM malls in Davao and General Santos is underway. The malls are expected to be completed by 2011.

SMPHI also has three malls in China—Chengdu, Jinjiang and Xiamen—and will be putting up the fourth in Suzhou, China next year.

“Our main focus is still the Philippines. There is still room for growth here. China is our growth story five years from now.

We are, little by little, building our brand name there,” said Sy who attended the inauguration of China Bank Cebu Business Center last Friday.

With so much competition in China, he said SMPHI’s strategy is to enter into third-tiered cities where most of the residents are not familiar with shopping malls.

Sy also disclosed that SMPHI has brought the equipment that will introduce Imax (Image Maximum) cinema technology in Cebu.

The company is renovating Cinema 4 at SM City to house the equipment.

When asked for updates on the planned convention center of SM Investment Corp. (SMIC), Sy said the company is still focused on finishing the Radisson Hotel—an SMIC property that will be managed by international hotel management chain Radisson—located beside SM City Cebu mall at the North Reclamation Area, Cebu City. The hotel will soft-open in November this year.

SMIC, he said, is still studying ways to come up with enough parking slots for the three-story convention center that is planned to rise on an 8,000-square meter area next to Radisson Hotel and SM City Cebu mall.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Employment, Fun/Entertainment, Retail

Developer eyes workers

Sun.Star Cebu <> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A REAL estate developer maintains a positive outlook on the housing sector in Cebu amid the global economic slowdown.

Prohomes Development Inc. continues to focus on the local workforce, which it describes as a “resilient” market.

“We are (feeling) the pressure to produce more units to meet the demand,” said Prohomes founder, president and chief executive officer Beverly Dayanan.

Citing figures from the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund), she said the country needs to produce an average of 200,000 housing units every year to meet the demand.

This year, Pag-Ibig Fund plans to release some P43.5 billion worth of funding to developers nationwide, said Victoria dela Peña, department manager of Pag-Ibig Fund Mandaue branch.

About P3.5 billion of the amount is expected to be released for housing development in Cebu.

Dayanan said Prohomes hopes to get P500 to P600 million of the Cebu share, especially when the company has already identified three projects for next year that will collectively produce about 1,000 housing units.

“These projects would translate to a billion (pesos) in sales collections. Our prospects are bright. Our thrust is to continue producing more housing units through Pag-Ibig Fund,” she said.

Prohomes is the sister company of Johndorf Ventures Corp. (JVC), a wholly owned Filipino company with 20 years of experience in building houses and communities.

Prohomes and JVC have established several real estate projects in Cebu, including La Aldea Buena Mactan, an eight-hectare housing development with more than 1,000 house-and-lot units in Mactan Island. Last week, the developers opened a new and bigger office on the 14th floor of Ayala Life FGU Building at the Cebu Business Park.

JVC marketing manager Glenda Tupaz said that one of the three projects set to be implemented by the developer next year will be in southern Cebu while the two others will be built on Mactan where land is affordable and strategically located.

Next month, Prohomes will launch another real estate project called Corinthian Homes in Sudtunggan, Basak, Lapu-Lapu City.

The development will provide around 500 homes located on a three-hectare area.

“While Prohomes is into mass housing, we want to create a high-end look for our houses. (We would still) offer them at a lower price for the working class,” said Dayanan.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Real Estate

More consumers buy CFLs despite big price tag: store

Sun.Star Cebu <> Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A LOCAL distributor of Megaman products reported an increase in sales of energy-saving lamps as the public has become aware of the “sustainable” advantages of using compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

“At first, people are hesitant to buy (Megaman) because of the cost, which is much more than the ordinary incandescent lamp. But they realized that they do not have to replace CFLs as often as incandescent bulbs so their operation costs (have decreased),” said Cebu Home and Builders Centre president James Co.

CFLs have a longer rated life and consume less energy.

Megaman is a German CFL manufacturer, which was the first to launch the classic-shape and candle-shape energy-saving lamp. It also launched the first CFL GU10 reflector to replace conventional halogens in 2002.

Megaman products are available in more than 53 countries through 8,000 distribution outlets.

Co said Megaman lamps are compact and lighter with long operating life—up to 15,000 hours. It has silicone protection to avoid leakage of toxic mercury.

Market acceptance

When Cebu Home Builders started as the exclusive distributor of Megaman products in the Philippines last year, it took the retail company eight to 10 months to persuade the market to buy.

Cebu Home Builders is targeting Metro Manila and Cebu. The hardware retail chain supplies streetlamps to the cities of Parañaque and Marikina.

At present, the company is enjoying a 30- to 40-percent increase in sales of Megaman lamps.

“We have to initiate product launches, give samples, and install lamp testers to prove the sustainability of Megaman products,” Co said.

About 60 percent of Megaman buyers are homeowners. The rest include second line dealers and big projects, such as hotels and malls.

Popular Megaman products are the classic lamps—which are suitable for rooms and general lighting purposes—and reflectors for shop displays, showrooms, reception areas, conference rooms, hotels, restaurants and lounges.

“We aim to provide the best material solutions to consumers. Megaman is positioned as an alternative sustainable product. The global financial crisis is not a reason to scrimp. One has to (consider) better products to suit application during these times,” Co said.

He added that choosing a Megaman product over traditional light bulbs will mean more savings for the owner.

For instance, a nine-watt Megaman energy-saving lamp enables the buyer to save 615 kilowatts of power throughout the lamp’s life span.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Retail

Architects study rating system

Sun.Star Cebu <> Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

TO protect architects and consumers from false product claims, the United Architects of the Philippines-Green Architecture Movement (UAP-GAM) is initiating a rating system that will determine the “greenness” of construction materials and educate the public on the principles of green architecture.

GAM chairman Edgar Reformado said the group will work with the Philippine Green Building Council and the National Eco-Labeling Program of the National Government to come up with guidelines, as well as a product catalogue that will showcase
eco-friendly building materials, by the end of the year.

Any company that is engaged in construction and architecture can take part in the rating system, he said.

The process will require companies to submit their materials to a series of laboratory tests and be recognized by the National Eco-Labeling Program before they can become part of the public listing.

GAM member architect Miguel Guerrero observed that the presence of many suppliers who are advertising their products as green items tends to create confusion among the buyers, especially those who are not properly educated on the right components of green materials and the principles of green architecture.

Reformado told reporters during the opening of the 17th Construction Show Cebu last Friday at SM City Trade Hall that the rating system will not be compulsory but he urged suppliers to take advantage of the opportunity to promote their products as environment-friendly ones.

He said that the US already has this green product rating system but the Philippines is still in the process of making one.

He added that the Philippines still lags behind other countries that are making “big leaps” to be abreast with global trends.

Meanwhile, GAM is working with the Department of Energy to provide the agency a set of guidelines and principles related to a green buildings.

“We are hoping that this effort will become a referral tool that will eventually have an effect on the National Building Code of the Philippines,” Reformado said.

A green building, he said, efficiently uses energy, water and other resources. It protects health and reduces waste and pollution.

GAM is also advocating for green architecture, which involves designing with nature to ensure resource efficiency.

For this advocacy, GAM has partnered with the Department of Education for the construction of schools and other facilities.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Real Estate

Construction materials suppliers report ‘steady’ sales amid crisis

Sun.Star Cebu <> Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

DESPITE the economic slowdown, several construction industry players have remained optimistic as other sectors continue to post gains and end-users remain interested in home improvement.

Representatives of Hardwares Consolidated Inc. (HCI) admitted that the global financial situation has prompted investors and homebuilders to put on hold construction and expansion plans since last year.

However, this did not hinder construction suppliers from promoting their products, such as participating in the recently-concluded 17th Construction Show Cebu (CebuCon) and coming up with inventory sales to perk up the market, said HCI past president Charles Kenneth Co.

“Suppliers nowadays are hungry for business. They are coming up with ways to attract the market and achieve good margins,” he told reporters last week.

Other suppliers are tapping the real estate industry that reported a continuous rise in the number of projects, including condominiums, subdivisions and commercial buildings, he added.

Finishing work

He observed that sales of materials needed during the final phase of building construction remain “steady” as there are many structures that are in the process of being completed.

But he said there is a drop in sales of steel since “not many big structures are being started (this year).”

Without giving figures, he said the prices of steel and cement have dropped.

Co is urging homebuilders who have the financial resources to push through with their home improvement plans.

He said that the good number of attendees during the four-day CebuCon at SM City Trade Hall is an indicator that the public is still interested in being updated with what is new concerning building or renovating houses.

In a separate interview during the 17th CebuCon, Worldwide Home Depot owner and president Francisco Ong said the company experienced stable growth in sales as it continues to tap homebuilders, investors and developers.

“Every year, we participate in the CebuCon as a way of telling the public that we are still here to serve them,” he said.

The company has four outlets—Worldwide Home Depot South in N. Bacalso Ave., Cebu City; Worldwide Interiors Factory Outlet in Sacris Road, Mandaue City; Worldwide Home Depot Carcar; and The Tile Shop in A.S. Fortuna, Mandaue
City—catering to the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

Another exhibitor, GT Stone Works, is planning to penetrate the high-end residential homeowners market, as well as restaurants.

GT Stone Works, a Manila-based company, is involved in the manufacture of wall claddings and concrete stamping system, as well as turf works.

GT Stone Works Cebu showroom manager Ca-therine Lim said the company’s “eco-friendly” products are a better alternative
to natural stone finishes.

GT Works’ sales in Cebu has been growing since it set up a Cebu showroom two years ago, she said.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate

WELCOME!

This is a personal site that contains my news articles on Cebu, local tourism, investments, real estate, small and medium enterprises, and many more! Some entries tackle personal thoughts and experiences as a business writer covering the Cebu business community. Enjoy your time here. And I hope to hear from you! -NANCY R. CUDIS

NRC: a Cebuano scribe


NANCY R. CUDIS writes for herself (a pastime), for her family (a source of income), and for the Cebu community (a sense of duty). For inquiries or invitations to cover events related to Cebu, you may contact her through her e-mail: nrcudis@gmail.com.

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