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Robinsons Retail expects more sales via e-commerce

ROBINSONS Retail Holdings, Inc. (RRHI) said it expects its e-commerce channels to contribute a larger part of the company’s total sales even post-pandemic.

“We pivoted to e-commerce rather fast and we see now that the percentage contribution of e-commerce to total sales is growing very fast,” Robinsons Retail President and Chief Executive Robina Gokongwei-Pe told BusinessWorld at the second episode of its Crisis Insights from Business Tycoons series.

Robinsons Retail was formerly a “pure brick-and-mortar retailer,” however, the pandemic pushed the company to quickly set up shop online as lockdown restrictions halted physical store operations.

With the national elections just around the corner, Ms. Gokongwei-Pe said Robinsons Retail is hoping for consistency in policy.

“We want to see more consistent policies so that we can prepare better,” she said without elaborating further.

Business groups voiced concern last week after the government decided at the last minute to reverse its plan to place Metro Manila under a general community quarantine with targeted lockdowns beginning Sept. 8.

Small business owners prepared to reopen and bought supplies, however, the government announced on the evening of Sept. 7 that the modified enhanced community quarantine classification will be extended until Sept. 15. Granular lockdowns will be implemented this week starting Thursday, Sept. 16.

“The slowdown in economic recovery offers challenges to RRHI’s own recovery plans. The speed of the recovery of the economy largely depends on how fast the rollout of vaccines would be,” Ms. Gokongwei-Pe said.

The company said its brick-and-mortar stores still make up for a big part of its total sales. Robinsons Retail plans to continue working on its presence both offline and online moving forward, keeping in mind the “experience factor” to ensure that customers still enjoy shopping.

“Robinsons Retail will no longer be known as a pure brick-and-mortar retailer. We want to be known as an omnichannel retailer expanding both offline stores and our online business,” said Ms. Gokongwei-Pe.

For the first half of the year, the company reported that its e-commerce sales climbed four times. Its own e-commerce site saw the most significant growth. Its Southstar Drug, Robinsons Appliances, and Savers Appliances also have their own websites.

Gina R. Dipaling, Robinsons Retail vice-president for corporate planning and investor relations, said the company might reach its target e-commerce sales contribution this year.

The company will be adding more stores and brands in GoRobinsons, which currently houses Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Department Store, The Marketplace, Shopwise, Handyman, True Value, Toys R’ Us, and No Brand.

Higher e-commerce sales are also expected as the government continues to implement lockdown restrictions due to rising coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections.

“[It] seems we will likely exceed the high-end of the 2-3% target range sales contribution from e-commerce and call/deliver/collect services to total retail sales for 2021,” Ms. Dipaling told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.

E-commerce sales of the company only accounted for 0.4% of total retail sales back in 2019.

On Tuesday, shares of Robinsons Retail at the stock exchange declined by 0.30% or 15 centavos to close at P49.50 each. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte

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