By:James Loyola
Manila Bulletin

Starmalls Inc., the shopping center development arm of the Villar group of companies, is eyeing a possible follow-on offering next year even as it could spend up to P26 billion over the next three years for its aggressive expansion.

In an interview, Starmalls chairman Manuel B. Villar said "we haven’t discussed the details yet but we’re really preparing for an offering for Starmalls next year to fund our expansion; so we will be raising some cash."

Villar said "we will be opening three new branches this year in Taguig, Bataan, and Sta. Rosa. Next year we will be putting up another five malls. Typically, the investment for each mall is about P1.5 billion to P2 billion."

The firm is also planning to put up five to eight malls in 2017 and, by then, this will include branches outside Luzon, particularly in the cities of Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas.

Thus, by the end of 2015, Starmalls will have a total of 18 malls, 23 malls by 2016 and up to 31 malls by the end of 2017 as part of its long term vision to venture in community malls and create regional super centers across the Philippines.

Villar noted that the firm is not just focusing on the number of malls but also the size of each mall. He said most of their new malls will have 50,000 to 60,000 square meters of leasable space.

He explained that the Starmalls expansion complements the expansion of the Villar group’s new retail businesses which now includes All Home construction supply and home furnishings store, All Day convenience stores, as well as a new supermarket chain.

"We are expanding our retail group and mall group at the same time," said Villar.

Villar said Starmalls is raising the level of the Filipino "mall experience" by building bigger quality malls with a more dynamic tenant mix, beautiful, themed interiors with wider retail and service offerings and exteriors inspired by international commercial shopping centers.

Recently, the firm has launched its first upscale Starmall Prima branch in Taguig which is aimed at the middle to upper segments of the consumer market.