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Freeman Cebu Business

Maze mulls expansion to cater to more startups

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Confident of the positive comeback of the brick-and-mortar set-up, Maze, a retail incubation hub in Ayala Center Cebu, expressed interest to expand further, following the relocation of its concept store.

Maze owner and founder Carolyn Tan, made this pronouncement as she observed more start-up entrepreneurs are inquiring about available space, mostly those that have established a presence online during the two-year pandemic.

Operated by Hype Management and Development Corporation, Maze managed to keep its business during the height of the pandemic, which convinced Tan that brick-and-mortar retail set-up is here to stay, and even brisker as people are going out to shop, aside from browsing online.

Tan is planning to add more retail spaces by 2023.

Recently, the company officially opened its new location at the second level of Ayala Center Cebu across Rose Pharmacy.

Operating with 28 specialty shops in a 329-square-meter space, Tan said she is planning to expand the store size to accommodate more tenants and give opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs to make a physical presence.

Tan noted an encouraging business performance, with increasing consumer traffic despite the rising inflation, saying the holiday spending is kicking in already, thus inspiring other small businesses to invest in opening a store in a mall.

Maze houses capsule stores, which offer both specialty products and services, such as a vinyl record store, fine jewelry, fashion, technology, gadgets accessories and repairs, ticketing, bills payment, massage nook, clothing alteration, photocopying, and printing, among others.

According to Tan, revenge spending is felt by Maze’s tenants fueled by the traditional rise of sales during the Christmas season.

Established in 2004, Maze, has become the launching pad of now successful homegrown brands Mags, Lava, iTech, and What A Girl Wants.

“We are helping out tenants sell their products. Once in a while, we organize bazaars in high-traffic areas inside the mall,” added Tan.

In its latest report, Colliers Philippines a diversified professional services and investment management company revealed that  Filipino consumers’ propensity to shop and visit brick-and-mortar malls is starting to rebound.

“We now see the resurgence of high-density retail segments such as family entertainment centers, and this should result in greater traffic in Cebu malls,” said Joey Roi Colliers Associate Director, and Head for Research.

According to Bondoc, many mall operators are now reporting that consumer traffic is starting to bounce back to 2019 levels.

Colliers sees holiday-induced spending further propping up the sector and supporting a slight rise in rents through end-2022.

“More retailers are now willing to take up physical space, which should bode well for retailers and mall operators. We are optimistic that vacancies will improve by 2024 and this should lift mall lease rates within and outside Metro Manila. Metro Cebu should benefit from an improving retail environment across the Philippines,” Bondoc noted.

Colliers believes that the stronger-than-expected economic growth is likely to support the country’s retail sector. This optimism is likely to be seen in major economic centers, including Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

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