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Henry Sy passes away, aged 94

The founding father of Philippine retail, Henry Sy, has passed away.

Sy, who has topped the Philippines Rich List for the last seven years, was chairman emeritus of SM Investments, one of the country’s largest business conglomerates.

A Chinese immigrant who arrived in the Philippines at the age of 12 with his parents, his introduction to retailing began with helping out in his father’s neighbourhood store. He saved enough money to open a shoe store which he named ShoeMart, and whose initials later became the most recognisable brand name in the nation.

From a single shoe store, his business expanded into department stores, the first of which opened in 1972, then into malls, with 70 shopping centres bearing the SM brand in the Philippines and more in Mainland China.

SM Investments also owns supermarkets, BDO Unibank, almost 50 residential developments, six hotels and nine office towers.

Sy, who died on Saturday, stepped down as chairman of the company in 2017, taking on the title chairman emeritus and leaving the business under the leadership of his family and his long-time business partner Jose Sio, who is now chairman.

He had six children: Teresita Sy-Coson, Elizabeth, Henry Jr, Hans, Herbert and Harley. Teresita and Henry Jr are vice chairpersons of SM Investments and Harley serves as executive director of SM.

Forbes last year estimated the 94 year old’s net worth at US$19 billion, ranking him the most wealthy Filipino and 53rd richest man in the world.

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