SM pushes expansion; Calamba mall next

SM Prime Holdings Inc., the country's top mall chain developer, expects to post a double digit growth in its revenues for the first half of the year on the back of its aggressive expansion program.

Meanwhile, SMPH President Hans Sy said construction has is already ongoing for a new mall in Calamba, which is targeted to open next year as the firm 37th mall.

In an interview, Sy said though that he is not at liberty to disclose the firm's bottomline but noted that earnings in the second quarter and for the first semester were good.

He disclosed that performance in the second quarter was better than the first three months of the year due to the additional revenues from new malls opened during the period, such as the one in Naga City.

SMPHI also benefited from the economic crisis which helped the firm increase its market share as consumers shifted their buying habits and spent less money in high end commercial centers and opted to shop in SM malls.

Sy said they continue to open new malls all over the country. "We are opening our Las Piñas mall by October 1 and then, by November Rosario," he said adding that Las Piñas is a new mall, a super center.

SM Prime is allotting P12 billion in capital expenditures this year to finance the continuing construction of new malls in the Philippines and in China.

SM Prime chairman Henry Sy Sr. said they continue to build malls in preparation for the resurgence of the economy and "to be able to harness opportunities that are likely to emerge from the global crisis."

Hans Sy said this year's capex will consist of P6.5 billion to P7 billion for the construction of local malls and P5 billion to P5.5 billion for the construction of malls in China.

"We remain positive about the long-term prospects of the Philippines. With this in mind, we are pursuing our expansion plans," he said adding that they will open new malls in Naga in Camarines Sur, Rosario in Cavite and Pamplona in Las Piñas this year.

Meanwhile, Sy said that while they are not opening any malls in China this year, they are laying the groundwork for new malls in three sites that will be developed over the next three years.

SM Prime is building its fourth mall in Suzhou, with a gross floor area of 73,000 square meters, and expects to open it by next year.