By James A. Loyola
Philippine Seven Corporation, the master franchise holder of 7-Eleven stores in the country, is raising its capital expenditure budget by 25 percent to P3.5 billion in 2019 from P2.8 billion last year as it continues to expand and improve its store network.
In an interview at the sidelines of the firm’s annual stockholders’ meeting, PhilSeven Finance Head Lawrence M. de Leon said two-thirds of the capex will be for the opening of new stores.
De Leon said about 20 percent of the budget will be used to support the convenience store chain’s new product launches while the balance will be spent for renovation of some stores.
“We will remodel some 100 of our stores aged six to seven years old, while we are building 300 new stores for the year,” De Leon said.
PhilSeven President Jose Victor P. Paterno said the company may end the year with up to 3,000 branches from the curret 2,700. It ended 2018 with 2,550 stores, most of which are still in Metro Manila and Luzon.
Paterno said the company is also planning to operate white ATMs in its stores, or the same one that is being operated in Japan called Seven Bank, the largest operator in the world.
White ATMs will allow deposit to, and withdrawals from, any bank, but Paterno said it takes time to talk with the local banks. He noted that, 7-Eleven stores can use the ATMs themselves by depositing their money into the machine instead of hoarding the cash in the stores.
“If we want, we could have operated tomorrow. We should have an agreement with different banks. After the agreement, there’s still a system integration. So it takes time,” Paterno said, adding that it still has to strike a deal with a bank.
For starters, Paterno said it wants to operate some 300 white ATMs, possibly by next year, within the Metro Manila area.
“Over the past year, we’ve realized that serving the customers’ needs and giving them more reasons to visit the store leads to higher consumption,” Paterno said.