With over 20 years’ experience working for prestigious companies such as Rustan’s and Planet Sports, Roselle Andaya thought she’d seen it all in the Philippine retail industry. But all that changed when she was headhunted by Malaysian home improvement retailer MR.D.I.Y. in 2018 to spearhead its expansion into the Philippines.
“I was interviewed by two of the company’s directors and they immediately asked if I could meet with the owner of MR.D.I.Y., who was flying in from Malaysia that day,” Roselle tells The CEO Magazine.
“I met him that evening and we discussed his plans for the Philippines over a glass of wine. I was really shocked when he told me, ‘We will build 100 stores in a year’s time’. I’ve been in retail a long time and opening 10 stores in a year would be a really big achievement. In my mind, I thought, ‘These people are so crazy’.”
But Roselle wasn’t about to let such a promising opportunity pass her by. “I’ve always wanted to be part of a fast-growing company,” she explains. “I thought, ‘Maybe the craziness of their goals can be a reality. And if I’m the one to lead the team to that reality, it will be a very fulfilling achievement for me’.”
She also felt an immediate connection with MR.D.I.Y.’s management team and private equity investors. “The type of boss I work for is very important to me,” Roselle says.
“It was a blessing that I immediately met them face-to-face. I saw the humility and down-to-earth nature of the owner as well as the investors from the private equity firm. I thought, ‘I’d love to work for these people. I think I’d learn a lot and I’d love to see how we would get to 100 stores’.”
Roselle was immediately hired as MR.D.I.Y. Philippines’ COO and she hit the ground running. “We achieved that 100-store milestone in the first year and we now have more than 265 stores in the Philippines,” she says.
We achieved that 100-store milestone in the first year and we now have more than 265 stores in the Philippines.
“We build 10 stores a month. We’re the largest one-stop shop home improvement retailer in the Philippines in terms of the number of stores.”
To achieve MR.D.I.Y.’s ambitious growth targets, Roselle had to rethink everything she knew about retail. “Getting to 100 stores in a year took a lot of resources, creativity and open-mindedness,” she says. “There were a lot of retail concepts and practices that I had to throw out the window. I had to have a paradigm shift.”
The retail guru – who was promoted to CEO in early 2022 – is quick to point out that MR.D.I.Y. Philippines’ exponential growth was far from a solo effort. “I don’t think it would have been possible if not for the support of our shareholders and my very passionate management team,” Roselle says.
“The people we hired at the beginning are still with me now. That’s something I’m proud of and feel blessed about because it’s difficult to keep people in retail with this kind of pressure and these unimaginable goals. But I think it has worked for us because people want to be part of such an achievement.”
Even a global pandemic wasn’t enough to thwart MR.D.I.Y. Philippines’ expansion. “We were blessed that we were still growing because we were considered essential,” she explains. “People were working from home, and being comfortable in their temporary workplace was seen as something essential.”
In the next three-to-five years, the company’s lofty goal is to have 1,000 MR.D.I.Y. stores across the Philippines. “Our unique proposition is ‘Always Low Prices’, so we sell volume but with lesser basket values,” Roselle says.
Our unique proposition is ‘Always Low Prices’, so we sell volume but with lesser basket values.
“In terms of sales, we’re not at the level of some of our competitors yet, but we’re nearly there. I want MR.D.I.Y. to be the largest in terms of the number of stores and in terms of sales performance.”
Roselle will focus on five key result areas to achieve MR.D.I.Y. Philippines’ growth targets: site sourcing, warehousing and logistics, customer experience, team building, supplier relationships and finance.
“Location is very important in retail, so we have to be very consistent in sourcing our sites,” she says. “We have many quality sites, but there are two or three lemons. We will study what went wrong with those sites and what went right with the other sites. I’m very involved in the validation of our sites, so I travel a lot.”
As the company expands, so do its warehousing and logistics needs. “I have to make sure our warehouses are enough to hold our inventory and be involved in putting up new warehouses if needed,” Roselle explains.
“I also have to ensure that our delivery schedules are met and the right stock is in our stores at the right time. With gas prices crazy right now, I also have to check our logistics costs and make sure we’re efficient when we deliver stock.”
I take responsibility for my decisions and actions, and the outcomes of these actions and decisions, whether they’re good or bad. I encourage this type of leadership down the line because it fosters a broader culture of accountability all through the organisation.
A second family
Continuing to provide an “exciting and excellent” customer experience is also top of mind as more stores are added to the company’s portfolio. “I visit stores at least once or twice a week,” she says. “I make sure the stores are organised and that the team is motivated because that’s very important to me.”
During her visits, Roselle takes the time to talk to MR.D.I.Y.’s frontline teams and encourages a culture of respect and accountability. “I say, ‘Our company is like your second family, so treat each other with respect and don’t forget to have fun’,” she shares.
“I take responsibility for my decisions and actions, and the outcomes of these actions and decisions, whether they’re good or bad. I encourage this type of leadership down the line because it fosters a broader culture of accountability all through the organisation.”
• MR.D.I.Y. first opened its doors in 2005 as a small local hardware store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
• The home improvement retailer now has more than 2,000 stores worldwide.
• MR.D.I.Y. stores can be found in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, India, Turkey and Spain.
Roselle also works hard to maintain the strong relationships she has forged with the company’s suppliers and partners. “I’ve built a network over the years,” she explains. “We have our network of lessors that’s very important as well as our partners in the construction industry who help us build our stores at a fast speed.
“We also need to find the best logistics partners because inventory is one of our most important assets. And then there are our important partnerships with our banks.”
While all of these elements are crucial to MR.D.I.Y.’s success, Roselle admits that the company’s profitability is her number one concern. “Finance is something I really get myself involved in because, in the end, I wouldn’t do all these things if we were not profitable,” she says.
Proudly supported by:
Yellow Sun Construction Solutions