SM learns valuable lessons from Edsa
The importance and value of Edsa, the country’s busiest thoroughfare, has long been known to entrepreneur Henry Sy Sr., who started investing heavily along the highway as early as the 1970s.
His son, Henry Jr., recalls that at that time, Edsa meant just a few cars traversing two lanes, and there was plenty of open space.
“Thirty years ago, people thought that Avenida (in Manila) was the main thoroughfare. But my dad had a vision to go farther. That’s why we started building stores in Cubao and in Makati. We saw that Edsa would play a very important role,” Henry Jr. said.
Today, the 10-lane, 23-kilometer Edsa is Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare that traverses malls, hospitals, schools, churches in at least five of the most densely populated cities in Metro Manila.
It accommodates, on average, a million vehicles a day.
It was apparent early to the elder Sy that Edsa meant opportunities for business.
The SM founder spotted fertile ground on a 16-hectare marshland in Quezon City which was to be the birthplace of his first shopping mall, SM City North Edsa.
Constructed during a political crisis and in the middle of nowhere, Sy focused on completing the project despite the many questions about the wisdom of his move.
SM North Edsa eventually opened its doors in 1985.
Its only tenants at the start were SM’s fifth department store and its very first supermarket.
Yet, people came in droves, curious to see what a mall that size had to offer.
Other tenants followed suit as SM’s loyal customers kept going back.
Today, it is SM Prime’s second largest mall with 457,403 square meters and draws a footfall of about 418,135 visitors a day.
Having proven everyone wrong with the success of SM North Edsa, Sy decided to embark on another ambitious project along Edsa.
He bought a site in Ortigas Complex following a dramatic bid where he lost a corner lot to a rival. Not to be dissuaded from his vision, Sy built SM Megamall and again opened at the height of a crisis, this time on energy, in 1991.
Just like SM North Edsa, SM Megamall drew large crowds and has since gone through a few expansions to become the largest mall in the country today with 474,225 sq m in gross floor area.
What happened on the northern side of Edsa is bound to happen in the south.
This made him embark on a reclamation project in Pasay, well beyond the southern tip of Edsa and is now the 60-hectare site where sits the SM Mall of Asia, his biggest mall project back in 2006, but now the third largest.
The development of SM’s malls on Edsa was one of the biggest and best business lessons taught by the elder Sy to his children.
Edsa made them think out of the box, to be visionaries, exercise patience, stay focused and take calculated risks.
SM’s largest malls opened along this avenue during times of crisis. But today, they are SM’s most successful and profitable malls.
Henry Jr. recalls, “My dad always believed in the Philippines and in the future of this country. He taught us that if we could survive bad times, what more the good times. Edsa proved him right.”
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