Lorenzo C. Formoso (Enchong), Chief Operating Officer Duty Free Philippines
Meet Elvis Enchong
State-owned Duty Free Philippines has gone from strength to strength over the last 27 years and is now under the energetic leadership of Enchong Formoso.
But it is his orchestration of the industry’s humanitarian efforts following Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 that has hit the headlines most recently.
Within days of the disaster he set up DFP C.A.R.E.S., a charity providing support for the relief and rehabilitation of victims of natural calamities, and he spearheaded the drive to raise funds and mobilise partners, staff and the industry as a whole to help those affected by the crisis.
On embarking on your career path in duty free and travel retail did you ever envisage that one of your primary concerns might one day be charity fund-raising and the alleviation of suffering among your people?
I never imagined we at Duty Free Philippines would be treading this path. The Philippines is often visited by tropical storms hence Filipinos are already accustomed to the resultant floods and damage to land and property. But the unprecedented magnitude of super Typhoon Haiyan and the scale of devastation stunned us and the whole world. We just cannot sit around and watch while our countrymen suffer. We had to do our fair share to help alleviate their plight, hence the birth of DFP C.A.R.E.S.
DFP C.A.R.E.S. stands for “Coordinated Action in Response to Emergency Situations”. It was created as a support program that aims to encourage and mobilize DFP’s former and current employees, suppliers and partners in the travel retail industry to help generate funds that will be primarily allocated for the relief and rehabilitation efforts for victims of natural calamities in the country.
So far, DFP C.A.R.E.S. has undertaken the following projects/activities:
• DFP CARES donated packed meals to the government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development for the survivors arriving at the Villamor Airbase in Manila from Tacloban, one of the most ravaged provinces in the Visayas last November 2013.
• Yuletide Gift Pack – in cooperation with Yearsley, DFP’s supermarket supplier, a special gift pack consisting of special food items was sold at cost to Fiestamall customers wanting to send help to affected families located in the province of Cebu’s Hilotongan, Lipayran and Mambucayao Gamay islands. Sponsors or those who purchased the pack even got to sign cards bearing an inspirational message of good will and holiday greetings attached to the gift packs. Packs were distributed to 1,000 families last December 29, in time for New Year’s Eve.
• KISAP MATA PARA SA PAGASA Photo Exhibit – DFP sponsored a fundraising event in support of the rehabilitation drive by Photogra.ph, a group of professional and amateur photographers. The exhibition was held at the Fiestamall Atrium from December 16 to 31. In January, it was moved to the plush Rockwell Powerplant Mall in Makati City.
• A month-long special in-store promotion coined “Celebrate Homecomings and Donate” was implemented in partnership with Diageo last December 2013. Diageo generously donated to the recovery projects for Typhoon Haiyan victims One Dollar ($1) for every bottle of Johnny Walker sold at DFP Manila stores.
• DFP CARES distributed packed meals in January 2014 to the University of the Philippines students from Tacloban who were relocated to the school’s Manila campus.
As of March 2014, DFP CARES has received a total of US$100,000 in cash donations from the international travel retail community, our suppliers, and DFP current and former employees.
DFP CARES is now geared towards the implementation of projects focused on long-term recovery, development and restoration of livelihood and properties destroyed by typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. For 2014, a new program is being developed dubbed “Rebuilding LIVES, one BLOCK at a time”. The program, in coordination with the global non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity, aims to encourage customers, partners and friends to symbolically purchase “hollowblocks” to be used to build homes. Funds raised shall be allocated mainly for building homes for the survivors residing in the affected province of Ormoc, Leyte.
How has your career developed and what led you to your present role? Can you chart briefly how DFP has developed under your leadership?
As one of the agency’s pioneers in 1987, my contribution as the head of Logistics was to set up the company’s organizational and operational structure and controls. Once the agency was fully established, as the Deputy General Manager for Sales and Marketing, I spearheaded the design and implementation of effective marketing programs that focused on specific market segments, which DFPC caters to and hence increased sales and profits. One of my priorities then was also to lobby for the enactment and enhancement of the ‘Balikbayan’ (returning Filipino residents) Law which provides benefits to the Overseas Filipino Workers and ‘balikbayans’, a major market of DFPC. A “Babalik Ka Rin” marketing campaign intended to promote said program eventually gained numerous awards and accolades for DFP.
Since my appointment as DFP’s Chief Operating Officer in 2011, I have rallied my Management Team to exert all efforts to increase revenues and steer DFP to remain on track by opening new stores to cater to more tourists and travellers; ongoing renovations and enhancements of store facilities to be at par with international travel retail standards; implementation of intensified advertising and promotional efforts to reach a wider market; and continuing improvements on our customer service programs to efficiently address the needs of our shoppers.
What in your view is the primary role of APTRA in the Asia Pacific duty free and travel retail industry?
I believe that APTRA, aside from representing the region’s duty free industry, has a crucial role in addressing the threats against the industry.
The duty free & travel retail industry faces many challenges, not least the threatened removal of duty and VAT exemption on liquor and tobacco sales in travel retail in the Philippines. How are you tackling this issue?
The new Sin Tax law recently enacted again imposed excise and VAT on DFP’s importation of alcohol and tobacco products. This has caused us to raise prices but at the same time manage our margins to remain competitive in the business. Right now, we are working for the restoration of DFP’s exemption from the said law’s provisions and we are hopeful that our position will be reconsidered.
Are there any other challenges to the business in the Philippines?
Yes. Another business challenge to DFP is the Open Skies policy. In the past, almost all international passengers go through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila where DFP has its presence in both departure and arrival areas. Our flagship store, the Fiestamall is strategically located within a few meters from this airport to serve our customers with a bigger store offering a wider range of products that the limited airport space cannot give. In keeping up with the opening of more international gateways all over the Philippines, DFP has been extremely busy opening up several stores in key international airports to serve the duty free shopping needs of their passengers.
If you were to set the agenda for APTRA for the year ahead which action point would be at the top of the list?
To represent the members in pertinent issues and other concerns that affect the industry and their businesses.
Your charitable work must be very demanding on top of a full-time job. Do you have any leisure time and, if so, how do you like to fill it?
My love for music has made me enjoy performing for an audience who appreciate music from the 70’s and 80’s. The ‘Midlife Crisis’ band is a seasoned, all-professional music band, where I am a rhythm guitarist and vocalist. We are proud to say that apart from rockin’ and rollin’, the band also supports 19 music scholars at the University of the Philippines College of Music.