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CEO Talking Shop: Big dreams come from small ideas – Wilcon building its retail kingdom with strong visions

Wilcon Builder’s Supply, the leading building material supplier in the Philippines, has been established for more than three decades since its first hardware shop opening on Quezon Avenue in Manila in 1977. Today, the company has more than 20 outlets under three different brands, spreading across the country. Rosemarie Bosch Ong, EVP-chief operating officer of Wilcon Builders Depot/Supply Inc., tells Retail in Asia about the company’s successful story, revealing how small ideas can make big dreams come true.

RIA: Can you talk us through the story behind Wilcon Builder’s Supply?

Rosemarie Bosch Ong (RO): Founded in the 70s by visionary William Belo as a small hardware shop on Quezon Avenue in Manila, Wilcon has revolutionised the construction industry. One of Wilcon’s visions since its establishment is to keep customer’s satisfaction and interest. With this in mind, it has continuously adapted a strategy of offering expanded product portfolio in order to gain market share, upgraded its product offerings and innovated to keep pace with the demands of time.

Wilcon spelled out convenience in shopping as it opened more stores that occupy bigger yet fully air-conditioned expanse. These are poised by the expertise of its sales personnel and quality services that include reliable delivery service, the depth and width of its product lines, easy path to purchase journey in stores, comfortable shopping, customer friendly merchandising, tile-cutting service, interior design hub, delectable coffee concession and recreational area for children.

Wilcon offers a full line of home building needs to enable customers to do one-stop buying, which can be seen in the emergence of its big format outlets.

RIA: With more than 30 years of experience, Wilcon Builder’s Supply has developed different brands and outlets including Wilcon Depot, Wilcon Supply and Wilcon Home Essentials. What are these brands’ positioning in the market?

RO: Wilcon is differentiated from the rest because it has its own core products and manages its own space, its uniqueness sets it apart from the rest of competition. It is regarded as a market leader that changed the landscape of the retail construction. Wilcons existing brand architecture have three families, the original Wilcon Builders Supply (specialty store), Wilcon Builders Depot (large size format with wide selection of different lines and brand), the new Wilcon Home Essentials (smaller format mall based DIY outlet).

Wilcon believes that we are not just a complete home needs supplier but a partner to every homeowner in realising their dreams. Big dreams come from small ideas and Wilcon will inspire and transform these ideas to fruition.

RIA: How do you build up Wilcon’s brands and deliver your messages to your target consumers? What are your strategies on brand positioning and marketing?

RO: Wilcon lives up to its philosophy of fair dealings with all the stakeholders in the business, its holistic perspective and the completeness in products and services.

We rebranded Wilcon by making it more interesting to our target market, the new logo adapt to any segment of the market, with the brand DNA of being customer friendly, giving value to our customers and following the framework of marketing. By appointment Wilcon is a destination area and most of our outlets are situated outside the perimeter of high traffic areas so the strategy of the company aside from continuous improvement, is geographic expansion.

RIA: As a building material supplier, what do you see as the major store operation challenge?

RO: The challenge is lack of differentiation. We all know that the world is getting smaller and anybody can source the same product type from different suppliers that will lead to price cuts or price driving activity, it is the mandate for operations to spell the difference not only on products but service and continue to WOW the customers and make them realise that there is value dealing with Wilcon.

RIA: Do you think store format is an important element that can affect consumers’ in-store experience? Why?

RO: Definitely. Customers would stay longer in a store if he finds it convenient to shop to and the ease of navigating from start to finish. Shopping is like a story to tell there is a beginning and an end and a good format will catch the interest and attention of the shoppers.

RIA: How are Wilcon’s store formats designed? How do these designs optimise Wilcon’s in store operation and consumer’s in-store experience?

RO: Inspired by our desire to continue our service-oriented philosophy, our stores are designed in an organised and clutter free environment. This results to easy and convenient navigation within the store that allows customers to locate and choose merchandise in the least possible amount of time, with the least possible amount of stress, making Wilcon their first and last stop. Zoning strategies come to life as materials and fixtures are classified and categorised that allow for a variety of choices to be viewed at one time, again allowing for easy selection.   

RIA: Can you comment on the current market situation of the construction and building material sector in the Philippines? What are the opportunities and challenges for Wilcon here?

RO: Currently, the retail construction industry has big potential in both institutional and individual housing development, coupled with the renovation market. The challenge is to be able to address the needs of the changes in social segment such as consumer spending, increase in population and the changing preferences and lifestyle of the market. We need to be able to cope with the demands of the times and bring in the latest trends by being always ahead of competition.

One big challenge is the downswing and upswing in the global economy that might affect smaller economies like the Philippines. The ecological and environmental segment as well can be a challenge for providers of materials; we need to curb the effects by introducing and promoting green concept.

RIA: What is your expansion plan for this year?

RO: We’ll be opening our 28thand 29th stores in mid of 2012, in Talisay and Mandaue Cebu respectively.

 

Wilcon Builder’s Supply was founded in 1977 in Quezon City, Manila and has since then expanded to several retail outlets within strategic locations in Metro Manila and one in Davao City.

The company has revolutionised the construction industry by creating convenience shopping for its customers through its air-conditioned shops, delivery service, and commitment to excellent service. Its 30 years expertise has propelled this once small company to become the pioneer and leader in supplying finishing materials for the building industry.

Rosemarie Bosch Ong is the EVP-chief operating officer of Wilcon Builders Depot/Supply Inc. She has more than 26 years experience in the retail sales of the construction sector.

For more information about this company, visit Wilcon.

CEO Talking Shop is the Retail in Asia section devoted to interviews with brand CEOs and retail industry leaders.