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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

‘Find opportunities,’ traders told

Sun.Star Cebu <> Friday, July 3, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A MARKET research provider advised local suppliers and retailers to identify opportunities amid consumer trends resulting from the global financial crisis.

According to The Nielsen Company (Philippines) Inc., this will enable them to generate business growth as more consumers are driven to cope with the economic crunch through saving and looking for value-for-money items with ease.

At the same time, Filipino consumers still desire for better quality of living by seeking innovations related to health and the environment.

Marge Martinez, associate director for retailer services of The Nielsen Company (Philippines) Inc., presented this information in last Wednesday’s 3rd Cebu Regional Retail Conference at Parklane Hotel.

She said consumers today are reducing spending, purchasing the basic necessities, are becoming more sensitive to prices and promotions and are preferring to shop in areas that are convenient and accessible.

In a recent study, The Nielsen Company (Philippines) Inc. found out that the Filipino shoppers’ average spending declined but their budget on fresh food remains as is.

It was also noted that the decline in spending is seen among middle income consumers.

However, this trend in downsizing to a smaller basket in consumers is not happening in urbanized areas, specifically in
Metro Manila, Central Visayas and Southern Mindanao.

This could be attributed to the areas’ higher salary brackets.

Martinez said that while supermarkets remain to be where shoppers spend most of their money, the economic pressure is causing several of them to shift to more accessible trade outlets.

“Consumers buy only what is needed on a “when needed” basis as they make more shopping trips to make comparisons on prices, among others,” she said.

The same study by The Nielsen Company (Philippines) Inc. shows that convenience, low prices and accessibility are the top factors that shoppers look for in a supermarket.

Price-sensitive

It also indicates that three-fourths of the shoppers are price-sensitive, especially those from Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Southern Luzon.

“Most shoppers know the prices of most items they purchase and are aware when prices change. They are also more sensitive to unit price,” Martinez said.

The financial crisis has also prompted consumers to give up first the indulgence products, including alcoholic drinks, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, salty snack food and ice cream.

Martinez said promotions will likely be more successful if done for brands of preference while new brands must have a
“compelling reason” for trial as shoppers tend to be loyal to their brands and be selective on the new ones.

At the same time, more consumers are either staying home or going only to their favorite restaurants, but out-of-home consumption is lesser.

Apart from the financial crisis, the key demographic trends have also gradually affected lifestyle and shopping preferences.

Martinez explained that in the country, the household size is shrinking, the population of those who are 60 years old and above is increasing, and there are higher incomes in better job segments, such as the business process outsourcing companies’ workforce.

She said that a “strong partnership” between suppliers and retailers must pave the way for a better understanding of these consumer trends to continue generating growth.

Filed under: Business, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate, 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

Developer remains upbeat

Sun.Star Cebu <> Friday, June 19, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

DESPITE the economic slowdown, Citylights Gardens Condominium continues to be optimistic about its prospects, selling at least 150 of its 216 units of its Towers 3 and 4.

According to its developer Syntech Properties Inc., selling the prime residential units was difficult during the second half of 2008 when the global economy was reeling from the effects of the financial crisis.

“(During that time,) our sales declined by 50 percent from eight units a month to about four units a month. But we never get zero sales in a month,” said Syntech sales and marketing manager Anita Blanco in a press conference Tuesday.

Buyers of units include foreigners, expatriates, and young retirees. Other units, bought as an investment, were also rented out to managers and executives working for business process outsourcing companies in Cebu.

The sales and marketing team of Syntech Properties started selling units of the last two towers of the condominium development during their construction in 2005.

Now that the two towers are completed and slated for a grand opening on June 25, Blanco said they are optimistic that sales will pick up again with the two towers manifesting “the developer’s ability to deliver its promise.”

Sell all

“If the economy will be good, we target to sell all the units by next year,” she said.

Towers 3 and 4 were completed on schedule in the second half of 2008 despite the economic crunch. The first unit owner took possession of her condominium apartment in November last year.

Syntech Properties, with the support of its Singapore-based holding company Woh Hup Group as well as the Development Bank of the Philippines, invested around P2.6 billion in the development of the two towers.

Each tower, which has a Singapore-inspired contemporary architectural design, provides six units per floor. Prices of two-bedroom units range from P7.5 million to P8.8 million while prices of three-bedroom units range from P9.3 million to P10.8 million.

Citylights Gardens condominium is a development in Nivel Hills, Apas, Cebu City, composing of four towers. The combined 144 units of the first two towers have been sold out.

Blanco said that Citylights is positioned as a “premier residence on a prime location” as well as a “prime investment opportunity.”

Condominium amenities include a clubhouse, gym, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, children’s playground, and multi-purpose hall, among others.

Filed under: Business, Real Estate, Tourism

Firm eyes retirement facility

Sun.Star Cebu <> Thursday, June 18, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

THE efforts of the Department of Tourism in marketing Cebu as a preferred destination for medical tourists and retirees have “encouraged” a Singapore-based property developer to consider the province for a future retirement village investment.

“But we will have to study the Cebu landscape first,” said Janice Ngiam-Chong, director of Syntech Properties Inc.

She admitted that the company has not yet talked about this “workable” retirement village concept, when they plan to do it and where to build it.

“We are thinking long term. We would like to have a contained retirement community. We know it is being done in other countries like Japan,” Ngiam-Chong told reporters Tuesday.

“The concept is workable, but how doable is it here?”

Syntech Properties was incorporated in the country in 1997 when it built the extension of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Manila.

Syntech is the Philippine subsidiary of Woh Hup Holdings Private Ltd. and is involved in building construction, civil engineering and property development.

In Cebu, Syntech developed the four condominium towers of Citylights Gardens in Nivel Hills, Apas, Cebu City.

Towers 3 and 4, the last phase of the Citylights condo complex, were completed on schedule in the second half of 2008.

Syntech will celebrate the project’s grand opening this month. The developer had invested about P2.6 billion for these two 20-story towers.

“We have been successful in property development. It took us some time to start this condominium development.

We have to study the markets and their needs before going into designing and conceptualizing. It involves very careful planning,” said Ngiam-Chong.

The same process will be practiced if the company decides to invest on its first retirement village.

Ngiam-Chong lamented, though, that there is no development plan or master plan for Cebu.

“In Singapore, we know that MRTS (mass rapid transit system) and roads will be built in this area five years from now so we can decide to invest on a development on this or that part of the country,” she said, adding that

Syntech Properties has not engaged in landbanking in Cebu.

In Cebu, she observed, that one will have to wait what will happen in an area before deciding how to develop one’s property.

“The Department of Tourism has been marketing Cebu as medical tourism and retirement destination. It is encouraging, but to what extent? How doable is a retirement village here?” she asked.

When studying the possibility of a retirement facility, Syntech Properties will have to consider road networks, competence of nearby medical institutions and linkages of hospitals with international insurance companies.

Filed under: Business, Real Estate, Tourism

PLDT exec keeps investment plan for Cebu medical tourism facility

Sun.Star Cebu <> Thursday, June 11, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A SUBSIDIARY of First Pacific Co. Ltd., which owns a significant stake in the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), continues to eye Cebu as a potential investment area for medical tourism.

However, since it made an announcement in June last year to invest in a hospital in Cebu, Metro Pacific Resources Inc. has not yet finalized talks or set a target date and location for the facility.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of First Pacific and PLDT, said in a news conference Tuesday in Makati that this does not mean the company has dropped its interest to seek a local partner and build a medical facility in Cebu.

When asked about his interest in the Cebu City Medical Center, which he visited in September last year, he said there is “no update yet.” Pangilinan’s plans for a retirement village for medical travelers, which would be linked to a hospital, have not moved as well.

“We are looking at three hospitals in the Visayas and Mindanao.

We have no target yet in Cebu, although we have already been approached by one owner. We’re looking at this (development),” he said.

Pangilinan declined to disclose the names of the hospitals, saying that owners “might be sensitive” to having their business deals made public while talks are still ongoing.

Metro Pacific has share-holdings in the Makati Medical Center and the Davao Doctors’ Hospital.

Apart from Cebu, Pangi-linan said Metro Pacific is also eyeing investments in hospitals in Pampanga, Bacolod, Davao, Zamboanga and Iloilo, which are considered “prime markets” for medical tourism.

Favorite

“Metro Pacific is investing on hospitals. If there is an adjunct or collateral investment in medical tourism, Cebu (would be) a perfect candidate because it is one of the principal tourist destinations in the country. That would be good (for hospital operations). But our principal focus is hospitals,” said Pangilinan.

Pangilinan said that Metro Pacific is not inclined to invest in tourism-related facilities, like hotels. “(That is) out of (our) line,” he added.

He pointed out that PLDT and its subsidiary, Smart Communications Inc., are looking at more investment opportunities in Cebu’s growing business process outsourcing industry.

Pangilinan announced last year that instead of buying shares and investing in existing hospitals with established client base, the Metro Pacific plans to build a new hospital in Cebu sometime this year as none of the existing ones are up for sale.

Part of the plan is for Metro Pacific to invest P1.5 billion while its Cebu partner will provide the land for the Cebu hospital that will be designed with spa-like facilities and 300 beds.

In an interview last year, Pangilinan said the hospital project in Cebu would cater to local residents, balikbayans and major tourist markets, including Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, China and the US.

He added that Metro Pacific plans to have the medical facility accredited by international insurance companies.

Aside from its interest in telecommunications and medical care, the First Pacific group is working on a P20-billion investment in power distribution company Meralco, which it expects to clinch next month. When this is done, Pangilinan said he will focus other potential investments like Mimosa in Pampanga.

Filed under: Business, Health and Wellness, IT/Computers/Software Development, Real Estate, Tourism

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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