Coming from very humble beginnings, the LKY Group opened a simple general store in Sorsogon back in the 1960s.
Like all baby companies, the founder kicked off from the ground with only dreams and goals in his mindset. Lee King Yek worked hard to provide a living for his family. He never thought that this once small dream can soon turn out to be one of the country’s biggest and fastest growing names in the hospitality, transport terminal, food, real estate, construction, and retail industries.
The LKY Group made its name prominent with its banner projects and far-reaching developments. Filipinos now experience tourism services with high-end accommodations and convention venues via The Oriental Hotels Hospitality and Restaurant Management Services, Inc.; the Supermalls Transport Services, Inc. (STSI) operates and manages SM transport terminals nationwide; the newly-formed Food Group has already franchised three McDonald’s restaurants, with 13 more to open before the end of the year; Real estate developments fall under the LKY Development Corp.; and Philippine Primark Properties, Inc., which owns and operates Primark Town Centers, the most convenient gathering of retail establishments in one area.
To Yek’s amusement, his company made such a profound impact in the present industrial landscape. He recalled his days back in 1965, managing their first branch in Sorsogon City in the establishment of Goodluck Trading, a wholesale commercial establishment catering to the general needs of the community.
Lee King Yek’s only child, Wilbert, was sent to Manila for his education but quickly returned to the province after finishing his college education to help with the business. All of a sudden, good things flooded the doorstep of LKY. It was at this time that the seed of their success began to grow. Rowing alongside the growth of Goodluck Trading, LKY Property Holdings, Inc., was formed in 1994 for the purpose of acquiring lands for future developments in Sorsogon. In 1995, LKY Development Corp., was created for the construction and lease of properties acquired by the holding company. From then up to 2008, LKY focused on developing business, commercial, and retail projects all around the province. By 2009, the group was awarded the development, operation, and maintenance of central terminals for public utility vehicles such as the Legazpi Grand Terminal, the Sorsogon Inter-modal Terminal and Business Complex, Sorsogon Common Tricycle Terminal, and the rehabilitation of the old Sorsogon City Hall for the future Sorsogon Shopping Center.
Their experience and reputation earned them the right to expand outside of the Bicol region with the construction and operation of the Balanga City Grand Central Terminal in the province of Bataan in 2012. This major endeavor placed them on the radar of SM Markets, owner and operator of the Savemore Supermarket, SM Hypermarket and the SM Supermarket brands. Entering into a joint venture with SM marked the beginning of the LKY Group’s phenomenal success.
LKY Group president and CEO Wilbert Lee shared their bigger plans this year. They are now aiming to have people recognize the LKY Group brand and gain more popularity and support whenever the groups of companies conduct various projects and developments. And considering the group’s far reach in various business, lifestyle, and leisure industries, its presence is easily felt.
The Oriental Hotels brand is the group’s most prominent outing in the hospitality sector, with five hotels located in some of the country’s premier tourist attractions. The Oriental Hotel Legazpi is the only luxury hotel in Legazpi City with the absolute best view of Mayon Volcano. Another geographic sight can be seen at The Oriental Luxury Suites in Tagaytay, overlooking the picturesque view of Taal Lake and volcano. At the Oriental Hotel Bataan, marvel at the biggest convention hotel in Mariveles, originally from a structure designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin. Adjacent to the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Palo, Leyte, is the Oriental Leyte. And retaining its original name and Australian roots is the Swagman Hotel right at the historic City of Manila.
Lee adds that next year will be an exciting time for their hotel segment. “Coming down the pipeline are Oriental Hotels in Baguio, Alaminos, Banaue, Pagsanjan, and Tikling Island in Sorsogon,” he enthused.
On the terminals front, the LKY Group is growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the great contribution of their joint venture with Grand Terminal Management and Administration Inc. and SM Prime Holdings. Officially incorporated just this May of 2017, LKY’s Grand Terminal is the pioneer in operations and management service provider for transport terminals and is considered the country’s biggest terminal operator. Lee says, “We now manage 44 SM terminals, with more in the coming years.”
In February 2017, the LKY Food Group was established to franchise and operate McDonald’s Restaurants across the Philippines. “At present we have three restaurants that are in operation: Sorsogon, Cauayan, Bambang,” explains Lee. Next month they will open a restaurant in Echague, four more in October, ending with a total of 16 McDonald’s Restaurants by the end of 2017.
For real estate management, LKY Development Corp. is in charge. Recognizing the crucial human need for shelter and assistance, LKY has embarked on housing projects and continues to construct mid-sized houses in subdivisions to elegant residences for the upper market.
To this date, the LKY Group’s most visible project is the Primark Town Centers, developed and managed by the Philippine Primark Properties Inc. “Primark is the retail center, which is one ride or walk away from your residence,” Lee enthuses. Primark is acknowledged as the primary one-stop shop of weekday consumers, all 26 nationwide Primark Town Centers—with more on the works—are centrally-located within a short commute or walking distance from many urban communities. Unlike larger shopping malls, a Primark Town Center provides an ease and accessibility to shoppers who find a hard time commuting to the larger malls in the city.
Lee explained further, “Our town centers are a group of convenience stores in one place. This is where you go if you want to buy small items quickly. Where you don’t have to drive far, look for a parking space, walk all the way across a mall just to go to the supermarket.” Primark Town Centers make it convenient to just grab and go, usually with Savemore supermarket as anchor, and fastfood restaurants, banks, and drug stores all in one small convenient and accessible space. He’s confident that this plan will be more resilient than those they had before.
The LKY Group has never turned its back from its humble past. The small Sorsogon store, which signaled its start more than half a century ago still stands to this date and is now called The Goodluck Store—which has expanded to three branches. It remains an essential part of the company’s heritage, serving reminder that businesses should always have a positive effect on the community it is in.
Lee stressed, “In every business that we do, we should be able to change the lifestyle of the community. Relationships are important. Our town centers, our properties, should have a relationship with their communities. It can’t be just about setting up a property. Having a relationship with the community matters.”
The LKY Group’s road to success is an inspiration among corporations of their field. Over the past few years, it has been recorded as one of the most impressive and notable stories in the industry. Boasting its years of professionalism and experience, there is no question that this company can sustain what it has at the moment. Moreover, LKY is bound to go forward and step on larger dimensions in business. Lee noted, “The last five years gave our company an opportunity to really grow. We have matured. We are ready.”