After establishing a solid presence in the Visayas region, the Gaisano-controlled Metro Retail Stores Group Inc. (MRSGI) is now aiming to create a name in Metro Manila.
Manuel C. Alberto, president of MRSGI, told the BusinessMirror in a recent interview that the homegrown retail brand can compete head-to-head with the major brands in the city. “Although it is a brand developed in the province, Metro has an infrastructure that is world-class and the investment that has been put in place is very impressive,” Alberto noted.
“The brand equity is very strong especially in the southern part of the Philippines. It also picks the best locations for their operations. In terms of design, Metro continues to innovate to make shopping convenient and relaxing for the clients,” he added.
Alberto was invited by Frank Gaisano and former Metro Mart President Arthur Emmanuel to join MRSGI. In 2010, Alberto finally joined Metro Mart and worked initially as chief of merchandise and marketing. “The best way to really immerse in transition to our business is through merchandising and marketing because that’s where a lot of ‘magic’ happens,” Alberto said.
“That’s also where lots of the plans come from and the execution is in the store. I was able to get to understand the business from all sides of it from how we plan our merchandising, how we plan our marketing, understanding the different brands and the customers,” he recalled.
Alberto was impressed with the infrastructure of the company, citing it as one of the best. From an IT infrastructure standpoint, MRSGI has the best IT network system under the Oracle brand. Moreover, he was surprised that it has a robust supply chain system in place. “Metro is one of the few retail stores that operate its own trucking facilities,” he said.
To enable shoppers to have various options, the MRSGI team led by the Gaisano family travels annually around the world to find unique products that can be sold in the local market. “I think that’s present in our heritage as the Gaisano family travels to check the items that have value for money,” he said.
“We want to offer the best selection, but it has to be curated by the market,” he said. “There are some basic merchandise and brands that are well-loved by customers,” he added.
MRSGI is also engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) by helping micro, small and medium enterprises. It will also launch its own One Town, One Project initiative in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry.
It is currently finalizing the products that will be sold and stores which will carry the brands.
Among the CSR brands mentioned were Caritas Margins, an organization that works with micro-entrepreneurs from marginalized communities to create various products like food, artwork, home décor and accessories; St. Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center, which provides care and livelihood for people experiencing homelessness; and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, which facilitates the sale of fashion and homeware products made by persons deprived of liberty.
MRSGI Vice President for Corporate Affairs Anna Marie Periquet cited the important role of retailers “as engines of economic growth and shapers of consumer taste, retailers can make a difference in the world.”
Periquet added that corporate philanthropy is part of MRSGI’s corporate DNA. The company partnered with Vicsal Foundation to create programs to develop sustainable solutions to address poverty alleviation. Vicsal Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm of Vicsal Development Corp., which owns and operates MRSGI.
Among MRSGI’s programs are initiatives that promote inclusive business for local farmers, fisher folk and weavers. The company also helps consumer mindsets by providing them with socially responsible and high-quality products.
“The socially responsible goods on our shelves are not pity purchases. They have passed strict tests on consumer safety, health, sanitation, and are government-registered,” Periquet assured.