Patrons, former employees bid goodbye to oldest appliance center ahead of closure

September 9, 2021 - 5:21 PM
Automatic Centre retail store
A photo of a branch of Automatic Centre appliance store (Facebook/Automatic Centre)

Loyal customers were saddened by the pending closure of a long-time appliance franchise after more than 70 years of service in the country.

Chief executive officer Geoffrey Lim announced in a letter on September 8 that Automatic Appliances Inc. or Automatic Centre will officially close shop in October.

Automatic Centre was established in the country in 1948. Its first outlet was located along Avenida Rizal, in Manila.

“We would like to announce today that Automatic Appliances Inc. (AAI) will officially close down its appliance retailing operations effective October 10, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous challenges on our business and it is with much regret and trepidation that we share this news with you today,” he said.

Amid the downsizing, Lim assured the public that they will “ensure a smooth transition” and “closing process” of their retail stores.

Moreover, he also stated that they are currently seeking out “outside parties” that might be interested in adopting their brand in line with keeping their legacy alive.

“For over 70 years, the ‘Automatic Centre’ brand has been synonymous with selling high-quality appliances, electronics and gadgets at very reasonable prices and at affordable payment terms. In line with keeping the brand legacy alive, we will continue to seek outside parties that may be interested in using/adopting the ‘Automatic Centre’ brand name moving forward,” Lim said.

He then concluded the letter with a farewell to their loyal customers on behalf of the Lim family.

“On behalf of the Lim family, let me take this opportunity to express our sincerest gratitude for the unwavering support you have provided us over the past seven decades. Thank you very much. Maraming salamat po,” Lim said.

Following this announcement, former employees and loyal customers took to social media to bid their goodbyes to the well-loved appliance chain.

“Nakakalungkot na balita. 16 years din akong nag work diyan. Second job ko. Dami kong memories na di ko makakalimutan,” a Facebook user said.

“Sad to know about this. I’ve worked with AC for eight years and has taught me a lot because they really provide trainings for employees… Hoping the current employees would find other employment before Christmas,” another user wrote.

“Maganda pa naman customer service nila at competitive discounts. Kawawa mga employees,” one online user said.

One Reddit user cited the rise of online sellers as another possible reason for the shutdown.

“Talo din sila sa online shopping with manufacturers being able to sell directly to customers. Nawawala na yung value ng retailers like Automatic Centre,” one user said.

Others, meanwhile, expressed worry over the closure of a 70-year-old company succumbing to the pandemic.

“A big company closing, this is not a good sign. Imagine 70 years operating hindi kaya maisalba,” one user said.

“They survived 20+ years of Marcos but did not survive 5 years of Duterte,” another user said.

Private businesses, both big and small, joined other sectors in bearing the brunt of the country’s worsening health crisis and differing lockdown measures.

Among these, several popular long-running shops, restaurants and other establishments had also ceased operations due to the health crisis.

These include the Chocolate Kiss Café in UP Diliman, the Today x Future restaurant-bar in Cubao, the Heaven’s Touch eatery in Manila and the Route 196 bar along Katipunan.