Country’s biggest malls step up rivalry in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 July) – This city is getting the bonanza and the upside as a result of the rivalry between the country’s two biggest mall operators.

With Robinson’s Place set to open next month or in early September, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. vice president Hans T. Sy announced it will also open its own shopping mall in 2011.
Sources said SM Prime Holdings has closed a deal with the Salazar family for the lease of its five-hectare property along Santiago Boulevard.

Robinson’s Place, owned by the Gokongwei family, began construction of its shopping mall along J. Catolico St. last year.

The mall will reportedly have four movie houses and costs at least P2 billion.

Construction is already in its finishing stages and a soft-opening could be held next month.

In May, Robinson’s also inaugurated its supermart in Davao City.

The Salazars have refused request for interview on their reported lease agreement with SM Prime Holdings but it is believed that the contract is for 50 years.

The houses owned by the scions of the family at the back of Socoteco II have already been demolished to give way to land development.

“SM usually starts with small developments, or about 85,000 square meters, but with provisions to expand to 200,000 square meters,” Sy was quoted as saying when he announced the project.

But in the same report, which appeared in a national broadsheet, Sy revealed they have acquired properties in General Santos and Davao City.

SM Prime Holdings is also building another mall in Davao City in addition to its existing complex in Ecoland.

Both the General Santos and Davao City projects will open in 2011.

With strong overseas Filipino workers (OFW) base and hosting six of the country’s seven canning factories in the Socsksargen area, consumer spending has dramatically increased over the last three years.

Both SM Prime Holdings and Robinson’s Place are banking to capture the bulk of this market segment.

The city’s two existing malls, Gaisano and KCC Mall, have also aggressively positioned themselves to maintain their market share in the light of the competition. (Edwin G. Espejo / MindaNews contributor)