HOMEGROWN brand Island Souvenirs is hoping to cash in on robust consumer spending this Sinulog season to make up for losses incurred in their Ayala Center Cebu branch.

“It is going to be a painful Sinulog in terms of sales. Ayala Center Cebu is one of our top-tier markets and every year, it is really an outlet that we bank on especially for Sinulog where we have a windfall in sales,” said Camille Aldeguer, executive vice-president of Islands Group.

A fire hit Metro Ayala Department Store and Supermarket from late in the evening on Jan. 5 until 4:18 p.m. on Jan. 8. Although the main Ayala Center Mall was not hit, it has yet to reopen.

The Islands Group has three branches of Islands Souvenirs inside the mall—a boutique store, a pop-up store and an outlet inside the Metro Ayala store itself.

In its Facebook post as of Saturday, the mall said: “Thorough clean-up and systems check within the main mall of Ayala Center Cebu have been completed. However, removal of the damaged portion of the Metro Department Store and Supermarket building, which is adjacent to the mall, is still ongoing.”

According to Aldeguer, Sinulog is one of their high performing months in terms of sales, but with what happened to Ayala, they expect sales to at least match last year’s figures.

“Right now we are still on a positive trend. I’m pretty sure that this week we will already feel the impact of the incident versus our targets for Sinulog,” she said.

But the company remains hopeful as other malls in the city are experiencing high traffic, she noted.

Annual average growth in sales during Sinulog for Island Souvenirs is at 20 percent.

Some 12,500 pieces of Sinulog shirts are sold daily in Metro Ayala during January, while in ordinary months they reportedly sell around 10,000 shirts daily.

New direction

Island Souvenirs unveiled last Friday its annual Sinulog Cut and Style 2018 at the SM City Cebu Northwing, where consumers create their own Sinulog shirt and choose their embellishments and accessories.

“This is our sixth year. We are bringing it back because personalization is very much in trend. What we change every year is the creative direction,” she said.

This year’s theme is tribal fusion, which emphasizes an Aztec print, geometric shapes, and comes with embellishments like feathers.

The company started selling Sinulog shirts since December so they’d get the feel for which designs would sell.

Just for the Sinulog season, the company hired 200 additional sellers and on-call cutters. Fifty percent of those hired as backup workers are students taking up courses in the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Island Souvenirs has a total of 35 branches in Cebu. (KOC)