SM celebrates longstanding partnerships with homegrown brands
‘My Story, My SM: The Backstory’ recalls the humble beginnings—and consequent growth—of National Book Store, Penshoppe, Yabu and 8 Cuts Burger Blends with the retail chain
National Book Store founder Socorro Ramos recalls the time she and Henry Sy Sr. both had stores in downtown Manila. Hers was on Avenida Rizal, and his was on Carriedo.
Ramos got to know Sy, who encouraged her to become one of the first tenants at SM City North Edsa, SM’s first mall.
According to Golden ABC’s Bernie H. Liu, it was SM that convinced him to transition his clothing brand Penshoppe from a department store brand to a boutique by offering a space at SM City North Edsa in 1991.
Liu remembers how “we opened our very first standalone boutique in North Edsa with a fireworks display—on the very day Mt. Pinatubo erupted. The move allowed us to offer a different and fuller shopping experience to our customers.”
John Concepcion of the Standard Hospitality Group (Yabu) also recalls presenting the “single dish” concept “to others, but they did not seem to understand.” He then met SM’s Steven Tan, who loved the idea.
“SM believed in us and our vision and gave us a prime location even if we were untested,” Concepcion says.
The first Yabu restaurant opened at SM Megamall in 2011. Now, Yabu is the country’s leading katsu restaurant.
Eliza Antonino, Abba Napa and Jon Syjuco of The Moment Group remember pitching hard for their first SM store, 8 Cuts Burger Blends, “in hard hats because the space was reserved for big brands, and we were a small homegrown brand. We were no one in the industry, newly entered, and are so appreciative that SM took their chances on us.”
Ramos, Liu, Concepcion, Antonino, Napa and Syjuco, all movers behind some of the country’s best-loved brands, join in SM 60th anniversary celebrations by sharing their in- spiring stories in the “My Story, My SM” series, featuring 60 lives touched by 60 years of SM.
With its roots in retailing, SM has over the years become part of the lives of millions of Filipinos—customers, business partners, employees—each with a wonderful story to tell.
Their heartwarming stories highlight how their relationship with SM goes beyond business through generations. It traces how SM has been with them from their humble beginnings, and how they have grown as SM has grown through the years.
Today, National Book Store is one of the country’s bestloved brands with over 230 branches and over 2,500 employees. It has stores in over 50 SM malls, and Nanay Coring, as Ramos is fondly called, continues to work closely with the National Book Store team, including vice president Presentacion Ramos and managing director Xandra Ramos-Padilla.
The success of Penshoppe has made Golden ABC a multiawarded fashion enterprise that has brought Philippine fashion to the global stage, tapping some of the biggest celebrities and fashion icons and opening sites around Asia. Its portfolio of brands now includes Penshoppe, Oxygen, Regatta, ForMe and Memo.
Liu’s sons, Bryan and Brandon, are now onboard and play key roles in the company, which he envisions to become the most admired Asian fashion brand company. He is also preparing to welcome daughter Amanda, who will join the family business after finishing her merchandising course at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Yabu sold its one millionth
katsu in 2014, and is today the country’s leading katsu restaurant. All of Standard Hospitality Group’s maiden branches of exciting concepts like Ippudo Ramen and Mighty Quinn have been in an SM mall.
The Moment Group, after five years, has grown to include other homegrown concepts like Manam Comfort Filipino, Ooma and Mecha Uma, as well as the American-Italian restaurant Linguini Fini, and the five-time Michelin star-awarded Din Tai Fung.
Visit My Story, My SM microsite at http://mystorymysm.com and https://www.youtube.com/ MyStoryMySM.
Socorro Ramos (seated), with Presentacion Ramos and Xandra RamosPadilla: “Whenever a mall is inaugurated, Mr. Sy would ask me how business is. I would say, ‘It’s okay, sir. What book would you like to read?’”
Abba Napa, Jon Syjuco and Eliza Antonino: “We’ve grown together with SM. They keep offering opportunities for restaurateurs like ourselves. Their new developments remain relevant and competitive in the market.”
Bernie Liu (center), with sons Bryan and Brandon: “Our partnership with SM reinforces our mindset that business has to be constantly dynamic, ever changing, and can easily adapt to the market. It has to be flexible and fast enough to react to the changes.”
John Concepcion (left), with son Mike: “SM has always been supportive, always seeing the big picture. That’s why our maiden branches have been with an SM Mall.”