Business As Usual

Philippines emerging as Asia’s franchise hub

Jennylei Caberte - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s franchise industry is expected to sustain its robust growth in the next three years, with the pace peaking at around 30 percent by 2018 when the Philippines is expected to cement its footing as “the franchise hub of Asia,” the man universally acknowledged as the “Father of Philippine Franchising” said.

Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) chairman emeritus Samie Lim said the growth would be driven by the increasing demand for more disruptive products in three sectors – food, retail and services.

“We are targeting 15 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent in the next three years,” Lim emphasized. “This will grow as we develop more franchise concepts in different tiers.”

Lim said services such as beauty salons, adult day cares and pet hospitals would boom in the Philippines soon, and would help drive growth in the sector.

“We are now becoming the franchise hub of Asia, where people come here to sell or buy or even learn franchising,” he said.

Lim hopes that President Duterte will be fully supportive of the franchising industry.

He mentioned several issues that need to be addressed in the industry, such as the ease and cost of doing business, the growing congestion in major roads, airports, and ports, peace and order, and red tape.

“We also want to increase workers’ productivity because right now, we don’t have the right training programs,” he stressed.

Duterte appointed Ramon Lopez, a known entrepreneurship advocate, as the chief of the Trade department. Lim said his group is happy with the appointment.

“We’re happy he’s there, after all he is one of us. He knows our problems, our dreams,” he shared.

He also led the PFA to greater heights through the holding of several Franchise Asia events in Manila.

Lim’s resolve to champion the concerns of small and medium enterprises in particular and Filipino brands in general, is rooted in his family’s history of living in Tondo, Manila.

Though Lim’s family was among the most respected in Tondo, living amongst shanty-dwellers opened his eyes and broadened his understanding of the hardships of starting small. 

Samie, nicknamed “Cubie” in school for being a perfectionist, actually first learned about franchising as early as the 1960s.  He transferred to San Beda College from St. Stephen in his fourth grade and from being a member of the lowly Section H Class, Samie finished high school as class Valedictorian.

When he attended college at the Ateneo de Manila University, he engaged in part-time jobs selling roses in exclusive schools on special occasions like Valentine’s. He also sold encyclopedia before joining Abenson in the 1960s. 

His humble beginnings as a businessman also educated him on the importance of hard work. Lim’s first job was with SAVE Marketing owned by the Bagatsings and Floros where he sold discount cards for students when he was in high school.  

From his days of being an employee to venturing out on his own through BLIMS Fine Furniture now BLIMS Lifestyle Group – the country’s biggest lifestyle retail chain, Automatic Centre, and now the Canadian Tourism and Hospitality Institute,  Lim never became a stranger to life’s difficulties. This is one of the reasons why his heart always went out to the entrepreneur. He knows their difficulties and concerns simply because he has and is living their lives to this day.

His dedication to the cause of Philippine franchising spurred him to travel to many countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, where franchising is an established industry. Lim brought home the many lessons and insights he gained from his visits so that other local franchisers can apply it to their own ventures.

The more than 20 years that Lim spent strengthening the industry saw the birth and introduction of many brands in the Philippine market.  These catered to the tastes, needs and whims of Filipino consumers. 

Lim, who is also the chairman emeritus of Philippine Retailers Association (PRA), said the Philippines is expected to attract more foreign brands – from the mass market to luxury segments – as global retailers are starting to notice the vastly improved purchasing power of Filipinos.

Earlier, Lim was honored with the prestigious PRA President’s Award and now enshrined in the elite list of tycoons that made outstanding contributions to the retail industry for his vision to create millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of new enterprises through franchising more than two decades ago.   He is credited for his works that led to the rapid growth of the franchising industry in the Philippines, now recognized as the franchise hub in Asia.

In the early 1990s, franchising contributed a mere five percent to the retail industry. Today, franchising has become a major contributor to the Philippine economy, representing about 35 percent of the retail output while hiring over a million workers, and remitting billions of pesos in taxes to the government. 

Lim, with his background and track record in the retail industry, was elected president of the PRA, which he co-founded with the objective of modernizing Philippine retailing. He was then  the concurrent chairman and the first Filipino chairman of the Federation of Asian Retailers Association from 1991 to 1993, now Federation of Asia Pacific Retailers Association. With Lim at the helm, he championed the Philippines’ hosting of the 6th Asian Retail Conference and Expo in 1993, now Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition at the PICC – one of  the most prestigious international retail industry events and which put focus on the country as a retail destination in Asia Pacific and won for the PRA the prestigious Kalakbay Award as Event of the Year. 

“In 1993, we brought the best speakers from all over the world for the retailers in the country to benchmark on best practices.  Everybody here was inspired that they can  grow as much.  That was when we had the big dream to make our retailing industry world-class,” Lim emphasized. That was the year when Sy opened the exhibition halls at SM Mega Mall and Zobel de Ayala inaugurated the Activity Center in Glorietta.  

But more importantly, it was the year when they learned that franchising was the fastest and surest way to grow a retail business. Hence, in 1993,  the PRA organized the first International Master Franchise show to introduce the concept to the retailers. The success of this first event and the interest it generated convinced Lim that franchising will take off in the country given the right push and motivation.

In his recent speech at the Myanmar Franchise Conference and Expo 2016 titled “Growing the Franchising Industry: The Philippine Experience,” Lim shared in detail with his “Myanmar brothers” his experience in growing the Philippine franchising sector, his ideal which he has nurtured since his youth.

“This is, after all, the vision of the ASEAN Economic Community – to have an ASEAN where there is equitable economic growth for all member nations,” he said.

“I realize that in order to have a meaningful life, one must seek one’s higher calling. This higher calling for me is to be of service to the most number of people. Franchising, which has created about 140,000 franchise outlets and generated more than a million jobs in our country has helped fulfill this ideal. It is my sincere wish that this will also happen to your country,” Lim shared.

Lim believes that Myanmar – together with the other emerging markets in the CLMV region – can open many opportunities for Philippine franchise brands looking for overseas expansion opportunities. CLMV has a total population of about 165 million with Myanmar having a total population of 54 million, which is second in the region after Vietnam’s 89 million.

Franchise Asia Philippines 2016 slated on July 20 to 24 at the SMX Convention Center Manila is organized by the PFA – the country’s premier and only internationally recognized franchise association and the organization of the country’s topnotch franchisers. 

Franchise Asia Philippines 2016 is co-presented by BPI Ka-Negosyo and PLDT Smart SME Nation, and in partnership with DTI, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Philippine Retailers Association.

For more information, call the PFA Secretariat at (632) 687-0365 to 67 or email [email protected], [email protected] or log on to www.franchiseasiaphl2015.com.ph.





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