Manila APRCE lives up to high expectations

In Photo: Officials of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and Federation of Asia-Pacific Retailers Associations (Fapra) flank President Aquino (eighth from left), Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo (seventh from left) and Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. (eighth from right) as they lead the opening of the 17th Asia-Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition (APRCE)—the biggest and most important retail industry event in the Asia-Pacific region—at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex–Manila, on Thursday. The Philippines last hosted the APRCE two decades ago and this year’s Manila hosting was made possible through the efforts of PRA officials led by APRCE 2015 Overall Chairman and PRA Chairman Frederick D. Go (seventh from right), president of Robinsons Recreation Corp.; PRA President Lorenzo C. Formoso (center), COO of Duty Free Philippines; PRA Chairman Emeritus Samie Lim (right), chairman of Blims Lifestyle Group and Canadian Tourism and Hospitality Institute. Photo shows PRA Vice Chairman Roberto S. Claudio (from left), chairman of Toby’s Sports; PRA Vice Chairman Mars Chua, president of Sportshouse; PRA Director Arthur Coronel, CEO of Cinderella Marketing Corp.; PRA Vice Chairman Ma. Alegria Sibal-Limjoco, president of Central Books and Phoenix Publishing; Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras; Fapra Chairman Mehmet Nane, chairman of Turkey Retailers Association; PRA VP Rosemarie B. Ong, EVP-COO of Wilcon Builder’s Depot; PRA Vice Chairman Jorge T. Mendiola, president of SM Stores; PRA VP Chan Kok Bin, chairman and CEO of Celine Marketing Corp.; PRA VP Atty. Paul A. Santos, president of Picture City; and PRA Vice President Bienvenido V. Tantoco III, president of Rustans Supercenters, Inc.

RETAILERS from around the globe who trooped to the 17th Asia-Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition (APRCE) in Manila from October 28 to 30 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, went home armed with fresh ideas and valuable insights on how they can further grow their businesses and even expand overseas after learning from a formidable cast of global experts the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) put together for the event.

PRA President Lorenzo C. Formoso, COO of Duty Free Philippines, said the attendees to the Manila APRCE probably got a big surprise when President Aquino—during his speech at the opening rites—revealed that he himself used to be a retail-industry executive, and shared his own inspirational message to retailer-participants.

“The PRA is very grateful to President Aquino for committing his full support to the Philippine retail industry and the PRA. His presence at the APRCE alone proves the administration is giving due importance to retailers for their contribution to the economy,” Formoso emphasized.

PRA Chairman Frederick D. Go, president of Robinsons Malls and the 17th APRCE overall chairman, said President Aquino’s narration of his experience in the retail industry inspired retailers that they can really go places with the expertise they are gaining from years of practice in the sector.

“The President’s talk was a bonus for us. But, of course, the attendees learned more from the experts that we invited from the different retail trade areas of concern, including store design, supply chain, merchandising, e-commerce and others. The Manila APRCE surely lived up to expectations,” Go noted.

One of the speakers, Steven Goh, chairman of Retail Asia Publishing (Singapore) focused his talk on the emergence of e-commerce and its growth potentials in the next five years. He said companies that seek to venture overseas but have very limited capital should look into opportunities presented by e-commerce, given also the convenience and wide reach it has to offer.

“Growing capital is hard in retailing overseas. But there is a very dramatic picture now, where expansion of businesses are online through e-commerce,” Goh pointed out.

He noted the research of Alibaba Group citing that the B to C cross-border markets in retail would reach $1 trillion in value by 2020, with retail e-commerce in this segment growing at about 27.4 percent per year in the next five years.

This would give way to a boom in e-commerce, he said, adding that “by 2020, over 900 million people around the world will be engaged in e-commerce.”

There were also success stories presented regarding global retailing that helped retailers realize the important key points and attitude, especially for companies starting to look for overseas expansion.

Dennis Flores, Jollibee Foods Corp.’s vice president for International Markets, narrated Jollibee’s humble beginnings as an ice cream parlor in Manila and how it evolved as a hamburger joint into the full-pledged global quick-service restaurant it is today.

Other success stories presented in going global were those of Primer International Management Ltd. (Singapore) by its managing director Mark Chim; Berenike Global Fashion Management bvba (Belgium) by its founder and Managing Director Stefaan Le Clair; and Uniqlo Philippines by its COO Katsumi Kubota.

A mixture of panel discussions and insightful presentations in the morning and early afternoon sessions catered to more specific concerns of retailers. Highlighted were tips on how they could enhance their enterprises, including networking, music in the marketplace, corporate cultures and franchising, among others.

The 17th APRCE, with the theme “Asia Fast Forward,” was attended by thousands of local and international retail giants and delegates from around the globe.  Japan had the biggest foreign delegation at over 500 retailers and executives. The conference proper took place on October 29 and 30.

The 17th APRCE Manila is hosted by the PRA, the recognized organization of retailers and suppliers to the retail industry in the country, and organized by the Federation of Asia-Pacific Retailers Associations, the regional organization of 18 recognized national retail associations in Asia Pacific.

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