Alfamart’s New Application – Alfamart Philippines CEO Harvey Ong says the minimart chain started “at the bottom…as a small fish swimming among sharks.” Despite the ominous tone of the analogy, Alfamart has not yet fallen victim to its competitors.
Instead, the company has expanded rapidly since entering the Philippines a few years ago, with plans to open 200 more stores this year, bringing the number to 700.
Alfamart’s New Application
In fact, it’s already exceeding that goal—Harvey estimates that Alfamart Philippines will reach a total of 650 stores at the time of publication. Even more impressive is the plan to end the decade with 1,000 stores six and a half years after the first opened.
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Currently, Alfamart offers affordable prices, convenience and a full line, and fills vacancies. “Right now it’s a matter of going to a store that’s too far away or a small store that doesn’t sell that well,” says Harvey.
“We are responsible for availability, a complete offer, good prices and, of course, excellent service. This need has always been there, but no one in the market has faced it.”
In the Philippines, shoppers often rely on convenience stores, as the world’s worst traffic and poor public transportation make it difficult to reach supermarkets.
Of course, this forces shoppers to pay more for less variety, leaving room for Alfamart to operate.
Various Brands Of Butter And Cheese On A Shop Shelf In An Alfamart Store. Editorial Photography
But Harvey doesn’t see the chain competing with convenience stores; for him, it is part of a strong retail environment. Accepting the Alfamart role in 2016 also represents a complete career change away from roles at companies such as Procter & Gamble (P&G).
“Throughout my career, I’ve worked with some of the biggest companies and brands,” he recalls. “Alfamart was the opposite. They are backed by two big companies: Alfamart, one of Indonesia’s retail giants with more than 14,000 stores, and the big (investment company) SM Group here.
“But when it started in the Philippines, Alfamart was relatively unknown as an organization. As I entered the final stages of my career, it felt like a good challenge. A chance to leave a legacy, to be part of the growth of something from nothing.”
Although the support of both owners was crucial (SM Group provides instant “stability” and “street credit” to suppliers, while the Indonesian parent company provides refined operating systems), Harvey developed Alfamart in the Philippines for free. .
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He picks up the best elements of SM Group and Alfamart, describing it as “one of the best collaborations I’ve ever seen.” “As startups, we have to live with limited resources and make difficult choices about where to invest,” he says. “I look at things that don’t benefit our customers or improve the skills or well-being of our employees.
I encourage the organization to find ways to improve efficiency before hiring more people. “I don’t have a personal assistant to go home. The managers called me directly. I want to be available to them; I appreciate openness and transparency. Problems should be discussed and resolved as soon as possible; There is no place for bureaucracy in my organization.”
Inspiration for Harvey came from other companies as well. “I remember visiting a new fintech company in the Philippines,” he says. “There are no walls, just groups working around long tables. This was the structure. The boss was also working at one of those long tables, and everyone called each other by name. Everyone talked to each other, not via e-mail.
“That’s the culture I want to create at Alphamart, no matter how it grows.” Based on this experience, Harvey has made significant progress in his approach to the field of communication and collaboration.
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HQ has brought in new team members, Harvey is no longer his office, but that’s to his advantage. He does his best work away from his desk: overseeing Alfamart stores and ensuring excellent standards.
But perhaps most importantly, seeing your employees reinforces that you’re invested in their success. That’s a lesson he learned as a marketing representative for Jollibee, one of the Philippines’ largest fast-food chains. “I’m not just looking for flaws,” he says. “I’m here to congratulate and thank our frontliners for a job well done.”
Most importantly, Harvey has had to adapt his leadership style to accommodate the growing number of millennial workers. “They want recognition, a sense of belonging and contributing to a greater cause,” he says.
“These are not just cash prizes. It can be simple recognition for a job well done. A handshake or a meal to show appreciation. My generation focused on salary and promotion, all practical things. But for this generation, there’s a greater need for them to feel like they’re making a difference and to be part of a bigger cause.”
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Harvey clearly understands Alfamart’s contribution to society. As committed as he is to his employees, Harvey has always (since his time at P&G) believed that the customer comes first. “I’m all about giving my customers what they’re looking for. I don’t think this will change,” he said.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to make a small difference in the lives of so many people.”
“We are grateful for the opportunity to make a small difference in the lives of so many people, from our customers who appreciate how we improve their shopping experience, to our employees who benefit from our training and play a big role. ” he says.
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