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The changing landscape of retail franchising in the Philippines

Based on a recent investment guide by a trusted business magazine, 19 of the 50 biggest franchisors in the Philippines come from retail. One of the major factors that continue to drive these businesses to stronger positions, both locally and internationally, is innovation.

Innovative retailing

Despite the consistent inflow of international retail brands, local brands have not stopped innovating and steadily disrupting the way of doing business to stay ahead of the consumers’ ever changing behavior and preferences.

Bench started as a small boutique in Park Square in Makati City. Now, it is recognized for introducing industry firsts—celebrity endorsement, large scale billboards, foreign brand ambassadors, as well as venturing into other industries such as cosmetic line and fragrances, furniture (Dimensione), beauty salon, snacks, personal care needs, and bringing top international brands to the country.

Golden ABC’s biggest Penshoppe outlet in SM Seaside City in Cebu not only marks a feat for the retail giant but also showcases interactive digital screens that customers can use to skim through current collections.

Plains & Prints continues to makes waves with its collaborations with top local designers and most recently with photographers, Wig Tysmans and Mark Nicdao, embossing their awe-inspiring photos of Baguio and India through digital printing technology in their new collection, Photographic Memories.

There is also Folded & Hung with its Famous Salon, with an in-house snack bar Famous Kitchen serving light snacks and drinks; Bayo’s tribute to San Fernando, Pampanga lantern artisans by having unique designs imprinted in their Style Harvest collection; and Marithe + Francois Girbaud’s introduction of laser blading and techno fusion in modern sewing.

Experience retailing

“Not just fashion, but an entire lifestyle,” that is the phrase made popular by Bench. With experience retailing, consumers are not only buying products but also experiencing that spark their imaginations, their emotions, as well as inform and involve them.

When Bench opened SuperBench, a 3,000 square meter space in Market! Market! Mall in Taguig City, it introduced a one-of-a-kind shopping experience to Filipinos, offering more diverse choices and everything-in-one-shop including Bench Body, HerBench, Bench scents and cosmetics, KinderBench, Bench Bytes, Bench and Bath, and Bench Fix. It is also visually eye-catching with its store design featuring Filipino comic superheroes displayed in Lichtenstein-esque panels, images of Bench’s iconic ambassadors like Richard Gomez and Jerry Yan, and even its essentially Filipino Superbench bayongs (native, carry-all bag).

Golden ABC’s Oxygen has that store design creating a unique atmosphere for its fashion-forward and independent young professionals market; MEMO with its modern-luxe design with rich texture and lifestyle setting for that upscale look; ForMe on its designs that celebrate the many beautiful differences of women—from body shape, personality, preferences, and art of dressing up; and Tyler with its work-to-weekend look that is perfect for this generation’s working adults.

Travel retailing

When people travel, shopping tags along. Travelers love to discover great and unique finds they can bring home that will always make them remember that special place.

Retailers can use this opportunity to introduce and engage consumers with value offerings and a wider range of products and services not found in their home countries or home cities. And with the help of travel retail sales, retailers are also given on-hand data on consumer profiles to guide them on where to open future stores. Whether it’s international travel or domestic travel, retailers would do well in working with their franchisees to tap their local knowledge and help develop products that can target and excite the travel retail market.

Mobile and digital retailing

Phones are everyone’s necessity and with the entry of smartphones, more and more people are using their handheld devices to purchase products online. This growth is also supported by the rise of e-commerce websites such as Lazada, OLX, Zalora,, and AyosDito.

Top franchise retailers such as Bench, Penshoppe, Plains & Prints, Folded & Hung, and Marithe + Francois Girbaud are leveraging this channel with each of their own mobile-friend web stores. And with Facebook exploring online shopping integration, this segment is expected to continue its exponential growth.

Indeed, retail franchising is poised to continue growing and innovating in the coming years.


Chris is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy of Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects, ASEAN integration-Philippine Franchise Association.

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