The mid-market segment of consumers is still looking for “a one-stop shop environment,” and their desire to shop at department stores is still very strong. So says Anton Huang, president of SIAL Specialty Retailers, Inc., a joint venture between Rustan’s SSI Group and Ayala Land, Inc.
This was a driving reason behind the opening of the second branch of SIAL’s lifestyle hub, Wellworth, at UP Town Center in Katipunan, Quezon City, last May 29.
“Great value doesn’t mean it needs to be basic,” says Huang. He explains that the main concept of the Wellworth brand is to bring the signature quality service and inviting ambiance of the Rustan’s department stores to the mid-market segment.
Wellworth department stores feature well-curated assortments of makeup and cosmetics brands, children’s, men’s and ladies clothing brands, toys, teen fashion, and home accessories.
Renowned architectural and interior design firm Blocher Blocher Partners based in Stuttgart, Germany, designed the store.
The merchandise selection features local and international brands such as F&F, Forme, Le Tigre and Saville Row, among others.
Private brands exclusive to Wellworth include Erin, Comfort For Him, WAY (We Are Young), Hugs and Kisses, Princess and Accents.
Wishing to cater to the significant market in and around the Katipunan area, Huang is very excited about the great market potential of placing Wellworth at UP Town Center.
“We are very excited to be opening our second branch, and with the kind of reception that we have received with the first branch in Fairview Terraces, we have big expectations for our store in UP Town Center,” he said.
Inquirer Lifestyle talks further with Anton Huang about the brand and its future.
How satisfied were you with the first branch in Fairview? Why open in UP Town Center?
It’s just been over a year since we opened our first branch in Fairview, and we are happy with how the market has received it. We are very keen and excited about our second store in UP Town Center. We feel that the potential here is great. UP Town Center is a great new shopping mall. The villages that surround it, the universities and schools around it—it’s a great location. Mid-market customers looking for department stores that actually have great products, great customer service, and with a tasteful shopping environment are a market that we really want to tap into, build up and succeed in.
What are the most popular sections in your first branch—clothes, beauty and accessories?
Ladies’ clothing has been very well received, and so are the Home and Children’s departments.
How is your relationship with Ayala Land? What are your future plans with the brand?
Right now we are still talking with them. We are looking at which of the new Ayala developments are well-suited for the Wellworth brand. The first real plan was to put up stores in Fairview Terraces and UP Town Center; anything beyond that, we just have to wait and see. We’re looking at Bonifacio Global City, and maybe somewhere in Makati as well. Of course, our preference for Wellworth is to be within the Ayala development areas.
The department store concept—is it still viable? How are the mid-market customers taking it nowadays?
I grant it that today, specialty stores are the more preferred store types of modern shoppers. But that being said, looking at the mid-market segment, their desire to shop at department stores is still very strong, as evidenced by the success of other department stores in the Philippines like SM, Rustan’s, and Landmark. People still look for a one-stop shop environment. The niche market that is looking for convenience is still very, very strong.