John Gokongwei turning focus to e-commerce

Billionaire John Gokongwei, whose empire includes airlines, malls and property, is expanding the family business into online shopping.

His Robinsons Retail Holdings is moving more of its $2.7 billion empire online with plans to triple by next year the number of supermarkets handling web orders. Other retail chains in the empire will follow.  

Rivals SM Investments Corp and Ayala Corp are already expanding their e-commerce reach, all three launching online shops or investing in services over the past year.

The Gokongwei family is speeding up its efforts as Alibaba and Amazon move into Southeast Asia. The family already has a stake in Sea Ltd, which has started selling appliances and fashion items online through partners such as Zalora.

But supermarkets are the main driver of revenue. Robinsons launched online sales in May and is already showing exponential growth, says president Robina Gokongwei-Pe, the tycoon’s daughter.

“This is the way to go given the horrible traffic in urban areas like Manila and a growing market of millennials.”

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