SM presses forward towards recovery
With governments working towards sustaining an economic reopening amid the emergence of the new Omicron variant, both public and private sectors press on towards a long-awaited recovery.
SM Investments Corporation, the country’s market-leading conglomerate, is keeping its optimism on long-term recovery while remaining vigilant over new risks. There’s a strong dose of encouragement from improving vaccination rates across the country as lower COVID-19 cases and the Christmas season are expected to breathe life into consumer spending.
But even ahead of an economic reopening, SM Investments has kept pressing forward through comprehensive initiatives to support businesses within and beyond its ecosystem.
Health and safety in the now normal
“The pandemic has reiterated important lessons as we endeavor to maintain the health and safety of our people. It has also taught us that resilience is strengthened through adaptation and innovation in order to serve our changing customers’ needs. And most importantly, it has emphasized the value of unified and collective effort and the power of bayanihan where solutions hold greater impact when we work together for the good of the many,” SM Investments President and Chief Executive Officer Frederic C. DyBuncio said.
SM Supermalls has supported the vaccination program of various local governments and recently, reached over 6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in 71 malls around the country to date.
To further support the national health agenda, SM Supermalls joined the private sector and the government for its 3-day massive Bayanihan, Bakunahan drive from November 29 to December 1 in 66 malls that aims to vaccinate 9 million Filipinos nationwide.
Moreover, 78 mall branches across the country are certified with the government’s safety seal in recognition of the management’s safe malling efforts.
Across many of its portfolio companies, SM companies facilitated vaccination of its micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) partners in coordination with their respective local government units.
About 130,000 SM employees have been vaccinated to date as the company continues to push for enhanced health and protection among its people. At the forefront of broad vaccination and health efforts, SM ordered over 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for its employees and in support of national needs.
BDO Unibank, Inc. was the first in the private sector to source vaccines. BDO provided vaccines through a Tripartite Agreement between the National Government, vaccine manufacturers and the private sector led by Go Negosyo.
During the start of the pandemic, SM provided essential medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, ICU-grade ventilators, ultrasound units and X-ray machines at a time when these were needed the most. These made their way to a growing list of over 200 hospitals and institutions to help identify and manage severe COVID-19 cases and assist front liners during the health crisis.
As a swift response to the need for appropriate accommodations to house and treat patients affected by COVID-19, SM Engineering Design and Development built six insulated emergency quarantine facilities in Pasay City and Quezon City.
Boosting Partner and Local Economy Support
Beyond vaccination efforts and in order to support business continuity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), SM immediately waived rental fees of over PHP23 billion in 2020 for tens of thousands of its MSME partners.
SM also encouraged customers to support local businesses through SM Retail’s campaign, ‘Kasama ng SM’ by sharing stories of ingenuity, courage, creativity and perseverance of its MSME partners.
2GO also provided key services in strong support of the local economy. As the health crisis disrupted mobility and the flow of commerce, 2GO continued to ensure the unhindered flow of essential and fast-moving consumer goods, pharmaceutical and farm products, food, finished goods, raw materials and liquid bulk between Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It expanded its port coverage and trip frequency to increase regional connections and service underserved areas.
The pandemic has likewise affected the livelihood of numerous Filipinos, many of whom have become social entrepreneurs selling products online. 2GO recognized the requirements of these MSMEs and supported them by providing solutions that connect sellers and buyers through its pickup and delivery services across the Philippines.
For its part, Airspeed, a part of SM Investments’ portfolio investments, was the only forwarder at the start of the lockdowns who was able to secure chartered flights to serve essential industries such as pharmaceuticals and food.
Retail operations through food, non-food and pharmaceuticals stores created safe working environments for customers. These stores remained open throughout the pandemic, ensuring customers had ongoing access to essential goods.
SM Markets, SM’s food retail business, was quick to respond and support its partner restaurants especially those in the malls to develop, market and roll out new products during the long pandemic lockdowns. These restaurant products included ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat meals carried in SM Markets’ stores to help reinvent the dining experience with bestselling dishes and bring the restaurant closer to home, safely and conveniently.
By staying open especially during lockdowns, SM Markets supported its MSME suppliers’ operations. It worked closely with its supply chain partners as well to keep its shelves stocked and enhanced its product range to provide essential items for its customers.
Innovation and Adaptation
During the long pandemic lockdowns, SM needed to adapt and innovate to offer essential shopping to customers.
One such innovation was “Call to Deliver”, SM Store’s hybrid shopping service available through #143SM, Facebook Messenger and Viber that allows customers to chat with store personal shoppers and have their items delivered right at their doorstep or picked up in-store for a personalized and safe approach.
SM Markets for its part also beefed up its digital presence through SM Markets Online, via https://smmarkets.ph/, its one-stop shopping platform. SM Markets Online showcases all basic necessities as well as select premium or specialty items.
The pandemic also gave birth to more innovation when SM Supermalls launched SM Malls Online Mobile App (https://www.smmallsonline.com/), its newest online shopping app. This recreates the shopping experience, conveniently and safely for shoppers who want to buy from their trusted mall brands, favorite restaurants or even authentic gadgets from Cyberzone in one delivery or pickup from preferred SM malls. The SM Malls Online App is currently available in SM Megamall, North EDSA, Mall of Asia, Fairview, Southmall & Aura Premier and more malls to come in 2022.
SM accelerated digital services to help make MSME products and services easily accessible for customers. Further down the supply chain, SM helped micro-businesses in far flung areas by expanding BDO’s Cash-Agad Partner Agents program. Through this program, cash withdrawal is enabled through the Point-of-Sale terminals of the bank’s many partners.
“We believe in the return to in-person and in-store shopping as the economy reopens and people are more aware and accustomed to adhering to proper health and safety practices outside their homes. Rest assured we continue to work hard to develop innovative online and offline channels, to keep enhancing our customer service, and providing a safe venue for shoppers to access our many products and services,” Mr. DyBuncio said.
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