BIZ BUZZ: Secondhand market shakeup

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The new Marcos administration is continuing the economic focus of its predecessor of promoting infrastructure as a means of achieving economic growth. As such, the demand for heavy equipment and industrial vehicles is expected to remain robust in the coming years.

That’s good news for the local vehicle industry that deals in both brand new and used equipment. In particular, used heavy equipment from Japan has been big business for players based in the Subic Bay Freeport.

But there’s a new player in town that’s shaking up the industry and causing raised eyebrows among more established players.

Biz Buzz hears that the recently inaugurated company has its equipment yard in Lubao, Pampanga, which, of course, is not a problem. What worries the other players is that the secondhand equipment from Japan is apparently being brought into the Philippines through the most unlikely of ports: the one all the way down south in Zamboanga City… and then brought all the way north to Luzon.

The rivals are wondering how an operation like that can stay competitive in this cutthroat market. And the new guys seem to be flush with cash. How will the landscape change with this new player shaking things up? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

University Drive woes

With the resumption of in-person classes comes traffic complications unseen in the last two years, particularly along the roads leading to schools whose students are neither from the carpooling nor the public utility vehicle-hailing crowd.

A silent battle for access to the University Parkway Drive in BGC is being fought by stakeholders of some schools within the vicinity. In particular, parents and guardians of Everest Academy—a relatively smaller school than the likes of neighboring International School of Manila (ISM) or British School Manila, but whose students are also scions of high net worth families—are shocked to experience waiting times of at least 40 minutes to as much as an hour and a half just to get into the campus to fetch their kids.

One can’t miss the conspicuous queue of cars in the surrounding streets every weekday since in-person classes began. A stakeholder estimated that Everest has 23 kids per section, with two sections per grade school and high school level, and these students likely have their own cars on a 1:1 basis. Apart from having too many cars that need to enter its campus, Everest has had to implement COVID-19 protocols that inevitably further slowed down the flow of traffic.

Some Everest parents think their suffering could be alleviated by having greater access to the University Drive, but they lament that neighboring ISM historically doesn’t let the cars of other schools near their campus. Some have complained with the local government but couldn’t get any sympathy from City Hall, our sources say.

If neighboring schools will be generous enough to share University Parkway, these parents opine that their pickup predicament could be alleviated.

Recently, Everest came up with a new drop-off scheduling system by school level for specific days of the week. The new system requires that drop off and pickup of students should be done in batches of 12 cars for lower schools and 16 cars for upper schools.

Everest parents hope that the new system, which will take effect today, will help address the otherwise arduous waiting time for their kids to reach the campus. Otherwise, they are wishing and hoping that the local government would finally intervene.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Balai expansion

Balai Pandesal, the bakery arm of food kiosk king Lester Yu’s newly listed Balai Ni Fruitas, appears to be going places—starting with where its customers are.

By now, investors are familiar with its aggressive strategy to reach 200 stores in four years from 38 branches last June.

But in a recent chat with Biz Buzz, Yu shared more details about his expansion plans, which would involve even closer collaboration with other popular stalls within his group.

A bakery chain expanding where customers reside is not a new concept. Yu, however, is taking things further by integrating other products from his mall kiosks, mostly under his other listed company, Fruitas Holdings, into Balai stores.

In one such Balai branch we visited, a customer can shop for bread or pastries made by De Original Jamaican Pattie Shop.

Take a few steps through a separate doorway and one finds a mini-grocery store selling home food essentials and chilled juices and soy milk—all from Yu’s companies or third-party suppliers.

It looks like Yu is creating a one-stop retail empire but he shares it’s still about Balai Pandesal and the bread for now.

Balai Pandesal, meanwhile, is continuing to expand after recently opening its first store in Cebu City. This also marks its entry in the Visayas region.

Yu plans to pursue this integrated business model, which would no doubt be bolstered when regular in-person classes resume. So far, the market likes what it’s seeing, with Balai shares trading over 21 percent above its initial public offering price after a recent rally.

—Miguel R. Camus INQ

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