Confirming the Philippines’ investment grade rating in February 2022, agency Fitch noted the country’s strong growth and external buffers, and forecast growth accelerating to 7% in 2023.
This strong macroeconomic backdrop is powering the expansion of the retail sector, which is expected to rise 11.7% between 2022 and 2026, according to research and advisory company Technavio.
Upson International Corp. (Upson), the Philippines’ largest IT product retailer, is riding the wave of retail sector boom by bringing to the country some of the world’s leading players, including Samsung, HP, Apple, Brother, Vivo, Asus, Acer, and Lenovo.
“We’re the digital partner of choice in the Philippines,” says Arlene Louisa T. Sy, the newly-appointed president, CEO, and director of Upson, who has been with the company since it was founded. “We are a partner to the Filipino consumer, and we are a partner to the world’s biggest brands looking to expand in this market. Our mission is to cater to the untapped parts of the market and to bring digitalization across the Philippines. Brands are welcome to join us in increasing access to technology.”
Upson sets itself ahead of the competition by offering a wide range of products at different price points, giving shoppers the ability to choose what is right for them. Established as a distribution company in 1995, the company – then known as Proton Microsystems, Inc. – switched its focus on retailing in 1997, and merged with an affiliate in 2003. It launched its Octagon Computer Superstore brand in 2004, and introduced Micro Valley stores in 2006. The two brands expanded in malls at a time when there were limits on the space that could be taken by individual retailers. Upson International Corp., as it was rebranded in 2017, now has a presence in 16 out of the 17 regions of the Philippines.
“We’re aggressive with our expansion, but also strategic,” says Sy. “We’ve learned a lot in the past 27 years on how to grow.”
With 188 stores as of end-March, Upson now has its sights set on further expansion. From 2022 to 2026, it plans to open 250 stores or additional retail space of 25,000 sq.m., with an aggressive rollout in the next three years. Online sales will also play an important role. Upson launched its website in 2017 and at the start of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, formed partnerships with Lazada, Shopee, and Pick.A.Roo to market items through their e-commerce platforms. Additional stores and online sales will be backed by Upson developing its warehouse network to act as distribution hubs.
Investors will have further opportunities to participate in the company’s growth, as it filed for an initial public offering of up to PHP 4.88 billion subject to regulatory approvals; the capital raised will support the company’s growth momentum. This will go hand-in-hand with the continued expansion of the Philippine economy and tech sector.
“This is an investment destination with huge growth potential,” says Sy. “Filipinos are adaptable and embrace the digital transformation. There’s so much room for growth in business – and technology is integrated in every business sector.”