JG Summit businesses seen performing better amid full mobility

By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

GOKONGWEI-led JG Summit Holdings, Inc. expects its businesses to benefit from the full return of consumer mobility, the resumption of face-to-face classes and on-site work, and China’s reopening.

“I think we will have a better year this year primarily because the economy continues to grow,” JG Summit President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Y. Gokongwei told BusinessWorld last week about his optimism for the company’s performance for 2023.

He said that the group’s airlines, tourism business and malls, which were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are seen to recover “very strongly.”

“The businesses that suffered [from the pandemic] were benefiting from the economy and the return to mobility. This is the case for a lot of our businesses that were severely affected by COVID-19, particularly airlines, tourism and mall businesses. They are all coming back very strongly,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gokongwei welcomed the reopening of China as it will create opportunities for the group’s budget carrier Cebu Pacific.

“China’s the number two source of tourists to the Philippines and the number one source of growth, so naturally if China opens up then that will create opportunities for our airlines,” he said.

For its food business, Universal Robina Corp., Mr. Gokongwei said it has been recovering along with the resumption of in-person school and work.

“We will have full-year mobility, kids are back at school, they are getting their baon again, people are going back to work and they eat more,” he said.

“Our food business is mostly snacks and iced teas and coffee, so when people travel, have merienda, and socialize they consume these products,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gokongwei said the group sees the effects of inflation to taper off while it is still recovering its margins after the rise in the company’s input costs.

“I think the effects of inflation are beginning to ease. But of course, we still have a long way to go to recover our margins because we cannot pass through price increases as much as our input costs went up, but we view that inflation is beginning to subside this year,” he said.