Fueling growth in VisMin, CLI continues to expand, diversify

By Amy R. Remo@amyremoINQ

February 12, 2022 12:00:00

It came through practically unscathed, defying the odds and withstanding the catastrophic pummelling by the pandemic.

Leading VisMin developer Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) has indeed proven itself to be an epitome of business resilience, as seen in its impressive, record-breaking performance over the last two years, at the height of this health crisis. During this period, CLI sustained its strong growth momentum, launched new residential, office and hotel projects, expanded its landbank, and continued to ensure a solid, healthy balance sheet owing to an increasingly diversified portfolio.

Last year, CLI again posted record-breaking reservation sales of P16.5 billion, up 16 percent compared to the P14.25 billion it booked in 2020.

According to CLI chairman and chief executive officer Jose Soberano III, the company has rapidly expanded since its listing in June 2017 and has now more than doubled its P7.7 billion sales take up during that year.

CLI also launched last year a total of 10 projects, with a total of 3,865 residential units worth P18 billion. As of end-2021, CLI's completed projects were 96 percent sold while 86 percent of the developments under construction were taken up. Newly launched projects moved briskly and were 70 percent sold out.

"We spot opportunities in the middle of all these challenges. The low-interest rate environment and tax measures that favor mid- and economic homebuyers inspire us to persist in executing our project plans with agility and excellence. We intend to continue benefiting from our core business—housing—while preparing for new opportunities that global recovery and tourism will bring," Soberano had explained.

It's thus unsurprising that CLI capped 2021 with a stellar finish, enabling it to cement anew its leadership and foothold in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Several key factors had been crucial to CLI's stellar performance and strong resiliency.

Besides being able to quickly adopt new measures and protocols, a solid housing demand, strong appetite from the VisMin market, geographical expansions, and a diversified portfolio allowed CLI to thrive despite the challenging landscape.

CLI knows all too well how the pandemic upended all lifestyle facets, resulting in abrupt shifts in preferences and new demands. Knowing these new demand drivers, CLI responded fittingly by launching new ventures that would allow it to thrive.

Today, CLI has a total of 60 residential projects, spanning 172 ha across Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Iloilo, Bohol, and Dumaguete, with a collective project value of P79.6 billion.

CLI's diversified portfolio now covers the expansion of its townships to include the 14.3-ha Manresa Town, a university town that will blend seamlessly with the new Xavier University Masterson Campus dubbed as the "Campus of the Future" in Cagayan de Oro City; and Minglanilla Techno Business Park or the Ming-Mori reclamation project, a 100-ha industrial park. Groundworks and road preparations are ongoing in Davao Global Township (DGT) in Davao City, the listed company's first estate project set to transform the 22-ha Davao Golf Club into a central business district in Davao. DGT was awarded as Best Township in Asia by PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards 2021.

CLI also ventured into resorts by launching the 125-room Abaca Resort Mactan, and MagsPeak Mountain Report; co-living spaces including The Pad in Cebu City; and residential beachfront properties highlighting resort living such as the P3 billion Costa Mira Beachtown Mactan offering 659 units, which are already 92 percent sold a month after its market debut.

Consequently, CLI has also grown its leasing portfolio, the source of its recurring income. As of this writing, 29,000 sqm of gross leasable area (GLA) across its offices, hotels and commercial spaces have been completed. Another 46,600 sqm are still under construction and 300,000 sqm more under planning. The goal is to have 375,000 sqm of GLA in the CLI portfolio by 2027.

"CLI is proactively launching new projects to ensure adequate inventory to serve strong market segments," Soberano said.

This year, the company is set to launch fresh inventory and new projects to optimize its current landbank of 100 ha, valued at P12 billion. These new projects are set to deliver significant results for the company's balance sheet.

No doubt, CLI continues to be the undisputed industry leader in VisMin.

In 2021, Santos Knight Frank (SKF) named CLI as the leading residential developer in the Visayas and Mindanao, having captured the largest market share among property developers operating in these two islands. This is the third consecutive year it received this distinction.

Further attesting to the strong demand and warm reception for CLI projects are the awards that the company continues to reap over the past year.

The most recent would be its impressive wins at the 9th PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards 2021, where it bagged both awards for the two new categories: Best Developer-Visayas and Best Developer-Mindanao.

It likewise swept major plums for its projects such as the Radisson RED Cebu Mandaue (Best Hotel Interior Design); Davao Global Township (Best Township Development); MesaVirre Garden Residences (Best Condo Development—Visayas); One Paragon Place (Best Condo Development—Metro Davao); Casa Mira Towers Mandaue (Best Affordable Condo Development—Metro Cebu); Velmiro Uptown CDO (Best Housing Development—Mindanao); and Patria de Cebu (Best Mega Mixed Use Development). Special recognitions in ESG and in Sustainable Design and Construction were likewise conferred to CLI.

During the end of 2021, Typhoon Odette severely hit and damaged several areas in the Visayas and Mindanao. Despite the difficulties it also faced, CLI stepped up to support recovery and help rebuild devastated communities in VisMin. Spearheaded by the CLI Foundation with employee volunteers, the listed company actively took part in assisting the badly hit communities through relief operations including drinking water, grocery packs and other goods.

The company allocated P30 million to voluntarily repair roofs of affected CLI communities while securing necessary power and water supply. It also provided assistance to its employees in the aftermath of the typhoon, including the provision of emergency loans.

No doubt, CLI has become a picture of growth and resilience, thriving well amid a highly uncertain and difficult landscape, making it well poised to finish bigger and better well beyond the pandemic.