Preparations to usher in the Year of the Water Tiger have become much easier with DECS, now SM Markets’ most popular dimsum brand with its signature dimsum like pork siomai, hakaw, siopao, and other dumplings available frozen and ready to heat. And while DECS products sell whole year round, it is during the Chinese New Year and the Christmas season that they sell the most.
Diao Eng Chay is one of the first to sell traditional Chinese delicacies in the Philippines. Their first store, which opened in Binondo in the early 1930s, still serves hundreds of Filipino and Chinese customers in Chinatown with their signature dimsum today. In 1990, the third-generation owners sought to bring their heritage recipes to more customers by branching out and starting a new company called DECS. The new brand thrived by serving good quality dimsum to Filipino and Filipino-Chinese customers through a handful of pop-up stores across malls in Metro Manila.
In 2014, Chua, the great-grandson of the original Diao Eng Chay owner, was working with SM Retail’s mini-mart chain Alfamart as a Merchandising Manager. There, he had the opportunity to work with SM Markets vice-chairman Mr. Herbert Sy. As a veteran businessman who saw potential in what DECS signifies, Mr. Sy urged him to revive DECS and modernize the legacy brand for it to keep up with the times and expand beyond Greenhills.
A year after working with Mr. Sy, Chua took over the family business and started revamping and expanding the business on a much larger scale. With the help of SM Markets, they took the DECS dimsum legacy and reinvented it to appeal to modern consumers. In November of 2015, DECS opened its first stall in SM Supermarket Makati. DECS’ new look breathed new life to its already popular name and, after several months, the restaurant expanded to other SM Supermarket branches as well as in Savemore and SM Hypermarket. Since partnering with SM, DECS dimsum sales tripled. According to Chua, DECS sales exceed its targets by about 30%.
With the strong partnership pushing the envelope even more, DECS rolled out frozen and ready-to-heat versions of their popular products for shoppers to be able to enjoy their products wherever and whenever they prefer. Incidentally, DECS launched their frozen products months before the pandemic hit the Philippines in 2020 making it easier for DECS to transition their business and keep up with the disturbance of the pandemic.
In fact, the company’s innovation to bring their products to the freezers of SM Markets played to their advantage as frozen dimsum eventually overtook the sales of DECS’ ready-to-eat offerings. Their innovation tapped new segments of the market their ready-to-eat selections did not reach and their sales grew by 88% from 2020 to 2021. And with continuous support and guidance from SM Markets, DECS’ bestselling frozen dimsums are being sold in 84 locations nationwide.
“By modernizing a legacy brand such as DECS, SM has helped improve our sales, product, and operations. By selling in SM Markets, we are able to learn from their business, adopt their best practices like using the stores’ POS which saves us a lot of effort in collecting payments, and allowed us to scale and reach more customers. Not to mention the strategic location of each store that caters to our target market,” said Chua.
SM Markets is the umbrella brand for SM Supermarket, SM Hypermarket, and Savemore.