The Automatic Centre is the oldest appliance and electronics retail store in the country. Benito Lim, the “Father of Appliance Retailing” and grandfather of current president Geoffrey Lim, founded the company in a time when news was a prime commodity and there was a huge demand for radios.
As the leader in appliance retailing, Automatic Centre had achieved a lot of firsts; they were the first to introduce popular and major European, American, Japanese and Korean brands to Filipino consumers. They were also the first to open a branch at the Makati Commercial Center — the country’s first major commercial center. They were also the first to open a provincial branch at Ayala Center Cebu.
70th anniversary milestone
“The business was started by my grandfather. His primary mission when he started the business was to be able to offer appliances to Filipino consumers at very reasonable prices and that the appliance will give value to the customer,” says Geoffrey Lim.
“When he started out, it was really a matter of delivering the right product at the right price, and to ensure that the product had a proper service support. Now, it has evolved into offering the right payment scheme or affordability for the customers. We have to make sure that our customers can afford these items today to help their lives. Appliances are really about making our lives easier,” he adds.
For the whole year, Automatic Centre celebrated this major milestone by launching their anniversary logo, as well as special offers for their customers. As a way of giving back to their loyal customers, they gave out special deals and freebies for every purchase. They also offered different 70-related promos such as 70-percent discounts, paying only 70 percent of the price, and paying only P70 for an item.
For someone who has started working in the family business since he was seven years old, Geoffrey Lim strives to continue what his family has started. “Of course, being the longest or the pioneer in the industry, the brand name and the trust and confidence are really a differentiator,” Lim explains. “We have always strived to uplift the quality of life of our customers and the community we serve. We only offer products that are of quality and have warranties — we do not deal with fly-by-night operators. We really shift through various products of our manufacturers and try to offer our customers the best products available.”
His grandfather’s philosophy is to treat everyone fairly, and this is what he thinks is their greatest asset as a company.
“We always have to be fair in our dealings with our customers; aside from offering them good service, we never run away from customer’s complaints, we try to address them in the best way we can. I think that’s why we got the trust of our customers, employees, stakeholders, chair holders, banking and financing partners, supplier, and landlords, because they know that we’re a name they can rely on. We don’t overpromise, but we do try to exceed their expectations,” he says.
Maintaining longevity amid difficulties
With a history of providing excellent and trusted service to the Filipino market, it is no wonder that Automatic Centre has lasted for so long. But with the ever-changing market and economic landscape of the country, how does Automatic Centre plan on maintaining the longevity it has enjoyed?
“Being on our 70th year is one of the biggest milestone we’ve ever had, that through various crisis the Philippines has gone through, we’re still standing. We managed to get through those very difficult moments in our history,” Lim says.
“Inflation is, of course, a big concern. It affects consumption for the long term because it affects higher prices. So we try to understand that and offer price points where customers are still able to purchase the items that they need. We tied up with a lot of financing companies and credit card companies to be able to help customers spread out the purchase cost of the appliance or electronic item,” he explains.
Despite all the difficulties, the appliance and electronics retailer is ready to keep abreast with the fast-paced changes brought about by globalization.
“We aim to keep our status as a trusted retailer of branded appliances and gadgets by providing excellent customer service while continuing our pioneering efforts of offering innovative products at affordable prices in flexible terms,” he shares.
“We’ve been in business for 70 years. We will continue our mission of uplifting the lives of the Filipino people and the community we serve through our dedication, quality customer service and customer loyalty,” assures Lim.
And as the authority in appliances, it seems that Automatic Centre will definitely continue doing so.