How A Philippines Home-improvement Mogul Built A Crocodile Empire

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Here's how a Philippines home improvement mogul built a crocodile empire. William Belo from Wilcon Depot Inc. now sells Dundee crocodile products from his farms

Written By Tanima Ray | Mumbai | Updated On:
Home-Improvement

After learning that a crocodile conservation farm in the province of Palawan was looking to sell some of its stock, William Belo, whose Wilcon Depot Inc. dominates the Philippines home-improvement market bought them. With time Belo has developed Farm of his own with about 23,000 of the semi-aquatic reptiles, for which he has found more lucrative uses. Though he bought the first lot from a conservation park, he is now supplying their skins to luxury brands such as LVMH, and the meat is found in a variety of food products, including Hungarian sausages and a popular local dish called sisig. Belo's croc farm products are sold under the Dundee brand name, a tribute to the 1986 movie Crocodile Dundee.

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Belo's crocodile empire

Belo told the media that he simply wanted a farm and fresh eggs for personal use. Initially, he started with a chicken farm which gradually, made him ponder over the use of the ones which didn't lay eggs. He then came up with feeding them to the tigers in zoos. One thing led to another and he has now ended up with a crocodile farm, he said. There are now two crocodile farms owned by Belo - one for breeding on 10 hectares (24.7 acres), and another that’s seven times larger, for culling and managing animal waste. Moreover, he also breeds 800,000 chickens and 5,000 hogs, and he sells about 2,000 to 3,000 croc skins a year for ₹14232.26 to ₹17790.33 per piece.

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About Wilcon Depot Inc. 

Unfortunately, the price of crocodile skin has dropped because of oversupply prompted by weaker demand for luxury products by Chinese consumers. Yet his company, Wilcon is thriving amid a construction boom sweeping the country under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure push. The company targets middle- to high-income homeowners selling everything from plumbing fixtures to tiles and faucets. As per reports, the home-improvement chain’s sales climbed 18 per cent to 11.8 billion pesos in the first half of the year, boosting the company’s expansion plans. Shares of Wilcon have surged 42 per cent this year, the 11th-best performance among 262 companies on the Philippine Stock Exchange. That has vaulted Belo into the ranks of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of about ₹7116.13 crores, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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