National Book Store
|Founded||Manila, Philippines (1930s)|
|Key people||Socorro Cancio-Ramos (Founder and Chairman)|
|Products||fiction, nonfiction and other books
|Parent||National Bookstore, Inc. (50%)
Joint Venture between:
SM Prime Holdings (75%)
Ayala Corporation (25%)
Robinsons Land Corporation (50%)
Megaworld Corporation (50%)
Araneta Center (25%)
National Book Store is the largest bookstore and offices supply store chain in the Philippines. National Book Store is a joint venture of retail giants SM Prime Holdings (75%) and Ayala Corporation (25%). Robinsons Land Corporation and Megaworld Corporation exited the twenty year-old National Book Store retail joint venture on 1 January 2010.
Founded by the late José Ramos along with his wife Socorro Cancio-Ramos, the company has evolved from a small stall in Escolta that sold supplies, GI novels, and school textbooks. When World War II broke out, strict book censorship forced them to shift into selling soaps, candies, and slippers. They bought their merchandise from wholesalers and peddled them to smaller retailers.
The Escolta area was razed to the ground during the 1945 Battle of Manila, and the Ramoses rebuilt their business by initially erecting a barong-barong (makeshift stall) at the corner of Soler and Avenida Rizal. In time to catch the post-war boom, they returned to selling textbooks, notebooks, pad paper, and pencils, and sales were good at the time as there were few stores that sold school supplies and books. National Book Store was strategically opened, timed to welcome school year 1946–1947.
After a typhoon destroyed the store and damaged all the merchandise in 1948, the Ramos family decided to rebuild again, sleeping for only three hours a day after work. They eventually constructed a two-story building with a mezzanine, which was to become their retail store for many years.
In the 1950s, Socorro Cancio-Ramos thought of producing a line of greeting cards and postcards using Philippine views and artwork. By creating a distinct design, it would promote Filipino culture to the rest of the world; the company later acquired the national franchise for Hallmark Cards. It was also at that time that they began a publishing programme with the assistance of international publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Lippincott, and Addison-Wesley.
In 1955 and after five years of negotiations, the Ramoses were able to acquire a piece of prime property owned by the Guerrero family. They started construction of the nine-storey Albecer Building, named after their three children—Alfredo, Benjamin, and Cecilia, with the R standing for Ramos. When their children grew, they persuaded their parents to expand beyond the Avenida branch. Initially reluctant, the couple realized the opportunity envisioned by their children and they opened a new branch on Recto Avenue, catering to students in the nearby University Belt. In the 1970s, they acquired space in shopping centres that had opened in Cubao and Makati. By the 1990s, there were over 50 branches across the country.
1996 brought significant change to National Book Store. The family decided to change the company's distinctive red cursive lettering and commissioned a Singaporean design firm to create a new brand. A more modern cursive font was used, and the peppermint candy-striped background was simplified to a solid, bold red. The store layout was also reformatted with colour-coded signs provided for sections and logical merchandise displays.
Expansion and Entry to the Philippine Stock Exchange
National Book Store currently has 128 branches (including NBS Bestsellers) all over the Philippines, Metrobooks—a subsidiary store in Hong Kong that opened in 2007—, several National Book Store-Book Express mini-outlets and also several Powerbooks specialty bookstore. Also with the pending entry of National Book Store into the Philippine Stock Exchange through the rename of Vulcan Industrial & Mining Corp., also a company owned by the Ramos family, into National Book Store Retail Corp. they would now also venture into wholesale, publishing, printing, manufacturing, and distribution.