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SM mall to open amid talk of harm to small business

CABANATUAN CITY—The country’s largest retail operator will open its newest mall on Oct. 9 amid fears of displacement of small and medium enterprises.

The four-level SM Cabanatuan, similar in design to SM North Edsa in Quezon City and sitting on top of an 8.5-hectare property in Barangay Hermogenes Concepcion, will be the 52nd SM mall in the country and the 23rd in Luzon.

The opening of SM Cabanatuan has been delayed for 13 years. Negotiations with the local government have failed due to opposition from local business groups and smaller mall operators, notably, businesswoman Leticia Uy of the NE Group of Companies.

Some sectors fear that the mall’s inauguration will cause the collapse of small businesses operating in the area especially after SM Prime signified interest to buy existing malls and rebrand them to accelerate its nationwide expansion.

The October 9 inauguration will be led by SMPMI president Hans T. Sy and other SM Prime officials.           

Sy said that just like the rest of SM malls SM-Cabanatuan will provide a “total malling experience” to shoppers from this side of Central Luzon. It will also generate 2,000 jobs for local residents in the mall.

Bien Mateo, SM senior vice president  for North Luzon operations, said that the mall offers basement parking with at least 1,000 parking slots  which can also serve as catch basin during floods.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies said that while 99.6 percent of Philippine-registered enterprises are SMEs—which contribute almost two-thirds of the total jobs market—the sector remained weak in the past decade due to financial and institutional constraints, lack of support system in the community level and stiff competition with larger enterprises.

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