“Empathic Leadership” helped Alfamart grow to 7th Anniv

Alfamart, the first and only Super Minimart chain in the Philippines, has had quite an admirable rise from obscurity. From the fledgling first store in Trece Martires, Cavite in June of 2014, it has grown to over 1000 stores in a span of seven years. This achievement was the result of a number of factors. Surely, being partnered with a retail luminary such as SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) was a significant facet to their success. However, Alfamart Philippines COO Harvey T. Ong credits the brand’s accomplishment to Alfamart’s people-centric culture and its people. “Since we started in the Philippines, we made sure to adopt the core values of the founders of Alfamart and SM,” Ong said. Ong was referring to Alfamart founder Djoko Susanto, a self-made billionaire and one of the top Indonesian entrepreneurs, and the late Henry Sy, Sr., founder of SM. Both men had similar rags-to-riches stories. In the same way that Henry Sy Sr. started SM by selling borrowed shoes from a store and turned it into what it is today, Djoko Susanto started Alfamart in 1999 and was able to make it grow from a single store into more than 17,000 all over Indonesia today. The founders are the constant inspiration of every Alfamart staff member as they serve their customers. COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns failed to stop Alfamart’s expansion, and a lot of that is attributed to the dedicated Alfamart staff–from management to store frontliners. Alfamart took measures to keep its employees safe, especially at the height of the pandemic: free shuttle service, WFH arrangements, reassignment of staff to closer branches and many others. “It is important to care for our staff because the employee experience and the customer experience are directly linked,” said Charity Trinidad, Alfamart’s Assistant Vice President for Human Resources. “We have to look out for our employees so they can provide excellent customer service,” she added.