Island Pacific Supermarket Appoints New CEO

Maite Defensor fills leadership role for grocery chain specializing in Filipino and Asian products
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Island Pacific CEO
Maite Defensor

Island Pacific Supermarket, a grocery chain specializing in Filipino and Asian products, has appointed Maite Defensor its new CEO.

Defensor, a seasoned business leader with more than two decades of diverse experience, brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Island Pacific Supermarket. Her career spans several industries, including marketing, construction, mining, finance and public service. Her leadership is further highlighted by her establishment of Island Pacific Global Inc., a strategic initiative that provided considerable labor cost savings by offering back-office support to U.S.-based Island Pacific Supermarkets. This strategic move not only bolstered the company's financial performance, but also supported local industries in the Philippines.

[RELATED: Island Pacific Unveils New Store in SoCal]

Her tenure as president and CEO of the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) positioned her as a key figure in one of the Philippines' largest construction industry employers. Defensor's commitment to public service is equally notable, exemplified during her time as the representative for the Third District of Quezon City in the House of Representatives. Here, she was instrumental in filing bills on antidiscrimination at work, focusing on eliminating discriminatory actions based on sex, sexual orientation, age, personality and appearance to promote a society based on fairness and respect for all. Additionally, she championed antitrust legislation to encourage fair business competition and prohibit unfair business practices.

Defensor's academic background includes studying economics at both the University of the Philippines and Harvard University. She has been assistant secretary and director of the Harvard-Kennedy School of Government Alumni Foundation of the Philippines, along with holding memberships in organizations like the Harvard Club of the Philippines and the Financial Executives of the Philippines.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of Maite Defensor's caliber and experience, whom I have also known for many years, step up to lead Island Pacific Supermarket," said Matt Ranillo, chairman of the board of Island Pacific. "Her visionary leadership, evident in her successful management of large-scale projects and her innovative approach in various industries, has demonstrated a proven track record of execution. Maite's unique qualifications, combining her extensive business acumen with her commitment to operational excellence, position her perfectly to drive strategic prioritization within our company. We are confident that under Maite's guidance, Island Pacific will ascend to new heights of success, continuing to innovate and excel in serving our community."

Meanwhile, Niño Jefferson Lim, the founder of Island Pacific and the company's CEO until last year, expressed his profound gratitude to the chain's 1,000-plus team members for their support and dedication during his tenure. "I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to have led such a remarkable team," said Lim. "My hope is that the same level of support and collaboration will be extended to Maite Defensor and the new leadership." 

He also highlighted the most significant accomplishment of Island Pacific: "In the year 2000, there was only one dominant Filipino supermarket chain, which led to the closure of many small family-owned grocery stores. Against all odds, Island Pacific survived and now our presence has been vital to our community, ensuring competitive prices and better product choices. This impact is particularly evident in areas where our stores are located, often resulting in lower food prices compared to communities without our presence. Our inclusion in Fortune Magazine's prestigious list of Top 20 Best Large Workplaces in Retail is a testament to our core values, affirming our belief that our team members are our most important assets."

City of Industry, Calif.-based Island Pacific is a Filipino supermarket chain in the United States that offers a wide range of Filipino goods, including groceries, baked goods and ready-to-eat meals. The company prides itself on its dedication to serving the Filipino community and promoting Filipino culture through its products and services.

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