Fire threatens to tear down landmark Metro store

FIRE threatens to destroy the landmark Metro Ayala department store and supermarket, one of the biggest outlets of listed Gaisano-owned Metro Retail Stores Group, Inc. (MRSGI).

As of 3 a.m. Saturday, January 6, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office Chief Nagiel Bañacia said the fourth floor of the store has collapsed and it might take two days to control the fire that erupted at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, January 5.

Read: Official: Metro Ayala fire may last for 2 days

The 8-level store, established in 1994, was the third outlet that MRSGI parent Vicsal Development Corp. opened, after Metro Colon (1982) in Cebu City’s downtown business district and Super Metro (1994) in neighboring Mandaue City.

As one of the anchor stores of Ayala Center Cebu mall within the Cebu Business Park, Metro Ayala marks one of the first steps that Vicsal took towards becoming a world-class organization and expanding its reach by tapping the upscale market.

The store then was touted as Vicsal’s “biggest and best.”

Today, it is one of the 52 stores that MRSGI operates across three retail formats - department store under the brand name “Metro”; supermarket under "Metro Supermarket" and "Metro Fresh N Easy”; and hypermarket under the brand name “Super Metro”.

MRSGI, retail arm of Vicsal, has since broken barriers, becoming the first Gaisano company and the first Cebu-based company in over a decade to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Prior to its market debut on November 24, 2015, MRSGI was already the largest department store and hypermarket operator in the Visayas. It also has branches in Central Luzon, Metro Manila and southern Luzon. Going public raised for MRSGI some P3.6 billion for its expansion.

Nationwide, MRSGI ranks fourth among the biggest retailers in the country, after SM, Puregold and Robinsons.

Since 2015, the company has been embarking on an aggressive expansion program that aims to double its footprint and bring its network to more than 100 stores by 2020.

In the first nine months of 2017, MRSGI reported a “solid bottom line” with a net profit of P550 million, double that of the same period of the previous year, and sales of P24.4 billion, a 2.9-percent increase over the previous year.

MRSGI chairman and chief executive officer Frank S. Gaisano, in a statement, had attributed the company’s growth to “merchandising improvements and investments in operational efficiencies.”

The Metro stock, with trading symbol MRSGI, closed at P3.82 on Friday, January 5. (SunStar Philippines)
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