The LKY Group of Companies traces its humble beginnings to a general store called “Goodluck Trading”, established in the bustling center of Sorsogon City. Lee King Yek, the forefather of LKY Group, arrived in the Philippines from China as a penniless immigrant at the tender age of fourteen. On his own, he started out as a store helper in Binondo, Manila. As was the practice during those times, he would be locked up inside the store until the store opens again the following day. For five years, it was his life; hardships and sacrifices in the hope to have a brighter future for himself and his mother, the lone remaining relative he had. As life rewards those who try, the young Lee was noticed by a fellow Chinese immigrant named Mr. Poe. It was Mr. Poe who aided Lee to try out his fortune in Sorsogon. There, Lee toiled patiently this time as a laborer in a copra trading company owned by the family of the well-known Typoco clan of Daet Camarines Norte in Sorsogon.
The local Chinese community founded a Chinese school to which he applied in as a teacher. It is in this job that he stayed for the next 25 years, emerging as a respectable man, well-loved not only by the school populace but the community as well. It was also through his involvement in the academe that he met his wife, who was another Chinese teacher. In 1961, Lee King Yek found his entrepreneurial calling. Together with a close friend, they founded a retail store called Lucky Trading to cater to the burgeoning growth that Sorsogon was experiencing then.
After four years, the store floundered when said friend wrested the joint ownership to a sole proprietorship. Despite such a setback, Lee King Yek soldiered on to provide for his family. With the total sum of four thousand pesos saved from the dowry given by his wife Libertad's family during their wedding, Lee began a wholesale store named “Goodluck Trading”. What began as a simple two-story wholesale store became a flourishing commercial store as the times dictated.
In time, Lee’s only son, Wilbert, grew up and was sent to be educated in Manila. After college, Wilbert returned to Sorsogon to hone his entrepreneurial skills under the tutelage and guidance of Lee. The commercial store flourished under the leadership of both father and son. Due to the growth of Goodluck, LKY Property Holdings Inc. was established as the corporate entity for the acquisition of lands for future developments in Sorsogon in 1994. The following year, LKY Development Corporation was created to facilitate the construction and subsequent lease of properties acquired by LKY Holdings. It entered into a lease contract with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sorsogon for the development of a parcel of land at the back of the Sorsogon Cathedral which is now known as the Sts. Peter and Paul Arcade. The following year, it entered into a BOT agreement with the LGU of Sorsogon for the lease and development of a parcel of land fronting the Sorsogon Public Market which is now known as the LKY Central Arcade. Succeeding projects include the LKY Square, a 2000 sqm. development which houses a variety of boutique shops, LCC Supermarket, and the very first Jollibee in Sorsogon, the LKY Square Annex, and the Sorsogon Benzon Bldg.
In 2009, the company focused its interest in the development, operation, and maintenance of the central terminals for public utility vehicles. With this, LKY Development was awarded by the City Government of Legazpi with the development and operation of the Legazpi Grand Terminal, the first ever state-of-the-art transport terminal in the south, covering 3.9 ha. for the development of an upscale transport facility. Aside from this, the terminal housed the Ibalong Pasalubong Center, a cluster of stores where local, Bicolano specialties and goods are sold. This concept was envisioned by the local government for the convenience of the travelers passing through the terminal. Due to the success of the terminal, the local government received the Galing Pook Award in 2014.
Seeing the success with Legazpi, the City Government of Sorsogon awarded the company the right to develop and manage its first ever terminal facility with commercial spaces for lease. This is dubbed as the Sorsogon Inter-modal Terminal and Business Complex. This is the terminal that became the gateway to the Visayas, where all the buses stop to refuel, also giving the travelers the opportunity to stock up on necessities and pasalubong before finally crossing at sea.
Furthermore, the company was likewise granted the entitlement to develop and operate the Sorsogon Common Tricycle Terminal – a terminal facility with a strip of leasable commercial spaces located at the heart of the city. It was also granted permission to rehabilitate and redevelop the old City Hall of Sorsogon for the future Sorsogon Shopping Center. Having gained the experience in managing grand central terminals, LKY Development Corporation expanded outside of the Bicol Region by winning the right to build and operate the Grand Central Terminal of Balanga City in the Province of Bataan in 2012.
In the same year, LKY Development Corporation became the preferred contractor of SM Food Retail Group, now known as the SM Markets, owner and operator of the Savemore Supermarket, SM Hypermarket and the SM Supermarket. Aside from cornering the SM Market construction projects, LKY Development Corporation also undertook various subdivision development including the Villa Anthurium Town and Country Homes in Sta. Rosa Laguna and the LKY San Fernando Estate in Sorsogon City.
On January 2015, LKY Prime Builders, Inc., a company established by the group in 1996, was formally renamed Philippine Primark Properties, Inc. as approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company aimed to consolidate all the existing commercial developments of the group, which by then numbered at 12. These original 12 are located in Sta. Cruz Laguna, Silang Cavite, Guagua Pampanga, Cabiao Nueva Ecija, Bambang Nueva Vizcaya, Cauayan Isabela, Echague Isabela, Tuguegarao Cagayan Valley, 3 in Sorsogon City and in Quezon Avenue cor. Araneta Avenue in Quezon City and were all renamed Primark Towncenter.
In 2016, Primark was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to do initial public offering in the Philippine Stock Exchange. During this time, the SM Group saw the opportunity Primark provided to the communities and negotiated for the acquisition of 51% of the company’s shares after a careful perusal of its prospectus; making the Lee’s LKY and Primark an official partner of development and thereby making Primark the Philippines’ biggest towncenter developer. To date, Philippine Primark Properties, Inc. has spread throughout the Philippines. Primark has further expanded its operations to include the management and modernization of public markets by modernizing and rehabilitating them to a globally competitive level. Currently, Primark manages several public market via the Government’s Private-Public Partnership Program.
Also in 2016, LKY Group established several companies to cope up with its aggressive expansion and at the same time streamline each company to stay true to the purpose it was established.
Primariland, Inc. was established at this time to become the new holding company for all the new properties to be acquired.
Grand Terminal Management Services, Inc. was also established during this time to serve as the new management arm of all the Grand Terminal operations, which includes the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal and the Sorsogon Grand Central Terminal. Recently, in January 2017, it entered into a joint venture agreement with the SM Prime Holdings, Inc., to form the Supermalls Transport Services Inc., (STSI) whose primary purpose is to manage all the transport terminals located inside all the SM Malls. At present a total of 63 terminals located all over the country are being managed by STSI.
In the other spectrum, LKY Resorts and Hotel continued its commitment for excellence in leisure, elegance and fine living by expanding, acquiring and improving sites under its care. In 2008, it acquired Mayon Imperial Hotel, situated on top of Taysan Hill, Legazpi City. This was remade into now The Oriental Legazpi. The Oriental Legazpi is the only hotel in the region that passed the rigorous hotel star accreditation tests of the Department of Tourism. The Oriental Legazpi was accredited as a four-star accommodation, the highest accreditation that they have given in the whole region. The Oriental Legazpi provides the premier accommodation for tourists and guests of the city. With the backdrop of the majestic Mayon Volcano and verdant waters of the Gulf of Albay, it is the epitome of leisure and comfort in the local scene.
LKY Hotels and Resorts further expanded their portfolio with the long term lease of MacArthur Park Hotel located in Palo, Leyte. The hotel was rebuilt and renamed, The Oriental Leyte. A year later however, tragedy struck in the form of a typhoon. Despite the trials brought about by the Typhoon Yolanda, the new Oriental Leyte was relaunched in 2016, three years after the typhoon wrecked the hotel, as the structural gem of the community; encompassing both Red Beach and the adjacent MacArthur Landing Memorial where General MacArthur’s promise to return was fulfilled.
Further sites acquired were the Bataan Hilltop Hotel, a hotel designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin during Marcos’ reign and was abandoned around the time of the EDSA Revolution. It stands on a hill in the Freeport Area of Bataan. LKY acquired the hotel and it has since undergone intensive renovations before opening in 2015 as The Oriental Bataan.
The Swagman Hotel in Manila on the other hand was acquired from an Australian who prided himself in having the Australian hotel in Manila. In honor of this man, the name Swagman, an Australian word for ‘traveler’, was retained. It is the go-to hotel for Australians for more than thirty years. In spite of the recent renovations and upgrades, the character of the hotel was kept, as well as some of the old paraphernalia as a nod to the history of the hotel.
In 2017, a new corporate entity called The Oriental Hospitality and Restaurant Management Services, Inc. was created to manage all the new hotel acquisition of the Group and at the same time be able to offer its management expertise and services to other hotel owners, without losing sight of the high quality of service standard that the The Oriental is known for. It is currently managing The Oriental Luxury Suites in Tagaytay City.
With further expansion, a new segment in the group’s short term accommodation business has been augmented with the establishment of The Oriental Dormitory Management and Administration Services, Inc. to cater to the accommodation of middle-class workers and students in selected towns and cities. Its very first project will be the 300 rooms The Dormitory by The Oriental situated inside the Freeport Area of Bataan that caters solely to the more than one hundred thousand workers in the vicinity.
In February 2017 the LKY Foodgroup, Inc. was established. Its primary purpose is to operate and franchise McDonald’s Restaurant all over the Philippines separate from the proposed McDonald’s Restaurants in Primark Towncenters. To date, it has been awarded the franchise to operate McDonald Sorsogon and McDonald Cauayan, Isabela.
2017 also sees the entry of the SM Group into Primarifood Corporation, another company established by the LKY Group in 2016 to operate and franchise McDonald’s Restaurants in all its Primark Towncenters only.
While 2016 witnessed the establishment of several new companies of the Group, as a further testament of the confidence of the SM Group to the LKY Group, 2017 witnessed several joint venture companies formed between the LKY Group and the SM Group. The LKY Group continues to soar high as it embarks on its journey of providing not only for itself and all its partners and associates, but for the good of the community.