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Business As Usual

SM’s Eugene Saw: Thinking outside the (shoe) box

Khaila Gurion - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  Every woman deserves the best things in life, and footwear isn’t an exception. For the longest time, women have been searching for the happy balance between quality and price, for the right reasons. Some  women may find it easy to look for brands that suit their needs, but others may find it difficult to obtain the perfect pair that would suit their stylish yet practical needs.

Creating a brand of footwear  that is affordable and  durable has long been the vision of  Henry Sy Sr., the founder of SM.   In the myriad of SM’s ever growing lists of businesses, Tessie Sy-Coson,  Sy’s eldest daughter, established the company’s Shoes Business Unit in an effort to put more focus on its shoes and bags business. Tasked to lead the business is Eugene Saw, senior vice president and Business Unit head of Shoemart Inc.

The man behind the brand’s mission

Coming from a totally different industry, Saw is a perfect example of how leaders  learn as they go. Saw was instrumental in the expansion and growth of SM’s footwear line and a happy witness to its  evolution as a company. “SM started out with just shoes, and now it has become so much more,” he says.

Saw believes in  the importance of being able to grow and learn with your company. “Believing in your company’s vision is necessary, but integrating that same vision into your everyday life is one of the most important aspects of all,” he says as he talks about how SM has helped him grow over the years.

“It was an honor for me to witness how SM evolved as a brand, and how involved the Sy family was in making their every vision a reality,” Saw says as he narrates how the family of entrepreneurs hold on to the vision of  providing shoes to every Filipino. He goes on to tell the story of SM, from its humble beginning in downtown Manila, to conquering major cities in the country and the international arena.

“After saying all of that, I can say that shoes will always be one of the group’s top priority – it’s in our DNA,”  Saw declares.

According to Saw,  Coson was the driving force behind the  success of SM’s footwear brands. “Mrs. Coson saw the need to do things above and beyond the company’s capacity – despite our leadership position at the time – in order to ensure long-term success.  Thus, the concept of the Merchandise Business Unit was formed. This unit enabled SM to focus more on what was important – growing the shoes and bags business strategically and tactically,” Saw explains.

As the head of the department, Saw makes sure that  the unit’s merchandising, marketing and operations teams  are working closely together  to be able to execute plans and  produce campaigns that would put SM’s shoe and bag business at the forefront.

“Through the unit, SM was able to strengthen an already bulletproof brand,’’  Saw boasts, adding that SM has become an icon of success for Filipinos, expanding its business endeavors from shopping malls to residential, hotels, commercial and convention centers.

Simply Shoes: Reliable footwear for every Filipino

“Our new project, Simply Shoes, aims to offer quality shoes at affordable prices,”  Saw declares. “This is Mr. Henry Sy’s ultimate vision, to bring a piece of SM to communities where The SM Store is not present at the moment,” he adds.

Simply Shoes is a one-stop shoe shop that offers a wide assortment of affordable shoe selections for the entire family – men, women and children.  Its first store opened less than three years ago and as of March it opened its 25th store in Ayala Mall Legaspi. 

It carries a large assortment of brands for both practical and aesthetic uses, including SM’s iconic Parisian brand. It also carries other brands as seen in SM such as Milanos, Salvatore Mann, Solemate, Sprint, among others.

Not wanting to leave kids out of the fun, Simply Shoes also carries brands that cater to children, such as Sugar Kids, Tough Kids, Barbie, Fisher Price and other brands.

 “Not only do we want to reach out to communities and give them quality, affordable shoes, we also want to be able to show them that there are bigger and better things waiting for them at The SM Store,” Saw says.  

SM plans to open a total of  100 Simply Shoes stores by 2018,  bringing SM shoes and bags  a step closer to a lot of communities, especially women, nationwide.

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