MANILA -- The country head of a Japanese conglomerate and global leader in housing and building materials is optimistic on the Philippines and the market, supported by a robust growth in the construction sector.

“It’s very exciting, the Philippine market.  Actually, it’s been growing very fast the past few years… So like last year, we have grown more than 30 percent as a company (here),” said Alen Alban, country manager of bathroom firm Lixil Water Technology, a unit of Lixil Corp. 

Lixil Corp., which is operating in over 150 countries, owns various famous brands Lixil, Grohe, American Standard and Inax.

“A couple of years, we were thinking when will be the decline for the construction industry. But surprisingly, we haven’t felt it at all,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the launch of Grohe electronics toilet and luxury shower system over the weekend.

Listed Wilcon Depot Inc., the country’s leading home improvement and construction supply retailer, is the exclusive distributor of Grohe in the Philippines.  Grohe, headquartered in Germany, is Europe’s largest bathroom fixtures firm.

“In the Philippines, we rapidly grow over the years. Since last year, we have grown eight times already. So that’s how fast we grew the business with Wilcon, so they are really our perfect partners for retailing here in the Philippines,” added Alban.

He considered the Philippines a “faster-growing country”, with China and India its biggest country markets.

Meanwhile, Wilcon Depot has continued to embark on massive store expansion to grow its earnings.

“For this year, we are going to open (branches) in Iloilo, Cabanatuan and Tacloban plus Zamboanga. We opened three already in Butuan, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro. Next year, (we will open) another six stores,” said Rosemarie Bosch-Ong, Senior Executive Vice President-Chief Operating Officer at Wilcon Builders.

Bosch-Ong said the company spends about PHP150 million per store, excluding PHP30 million for inventory.

“Aside from store expansion, we’re expanding our categories as well and the product line and then continuous improvement in our service system,” she said.

Bosch-Ong identified growth potential categories as building materials and electrical products. (PNA)