Central Group pegs $6 billion for expansion


(Source: Inside Retail Asia | March 6, 2018)

Thailand’s Central Group plans to invest more than THB200 billion (US$6.3 billion) over the next five years on expanding its retail and hotel properties in Thailand and abroad.

It is especially targeting Vietnam, where it expects its retail business to grow by four times over the period. The group aims for total revenue to reach THB397.3 billion this year, up 14 per cent from last year.

CEO Tos Chirathivat says the group is studying designs and concepts for two mixed-use commercial projects in Bangkok. A site on Rama IV Road will be developed under a strategic partnership with Dusit Thani and a site in Ploenchit Road will be undertaken in partnership with Hongkong Land. The design process for the projects will take about two years to be fully completed. The mixed-use projects will require investment of about THB25 billion each.

Tos says Central Group is committed to maintaining its investment at between THB30 billion and THB40 billion every year for the expansion of its retail and hotel properties in Thailand and potential markets abroad, especially in Vietnam and Europe.

The group will invest THB47.5 billion this year in business expansion both at home and overseas, which is 27.8 percent more than last year. This excludes the possible acquisition of e-economy businesses.

Tos says the group is focusing on initiating online platforms so it can transform into a tech company.

Main focus

For overseas expansion, however, Vietnam is the group’s main focus. He says Central Group has grown there by an average of 340 percent over the past five years. It is the largest foreign retailer in the country, with five core business units: 31 malls (Big C), 59 food stores (Big C, Lanchi Mart), 49 fashion stores (Delala, Marks & Spencer, Robins, Supersports), 79 stores for construction materials, home decoration and electrical appliances (including B2S, PowerMall and Nguyen Kim), and three online platforms (B2S.com.vn, NguyenKim.yn, Robins.vn).

“Our penetration in Vietnam is now more than 217 stores with more than 700,000sqm in combined retail space in 37 provinces. By 2022, we expect to have more than 753 stores, and will occupy 2.5 million square metres in 57 provinces in Vietnam,” says Tos.

The sales contribution from Vietnam would increase significantly from 13 per cent now to about 20 per cent over that period, he says. The company has 17,000-plus employees in Vietnam, serving more than 175,000 customers a day.

In Thailand, he says the group will officially open its Tops Plaza in Phayao Province this quarter, followed by the relaunch of its CentralWorld in Bangkok in the second quarter. The group will also open the Robinson Lifestyle complex at Amata Chon Buri, Tops Plaza in Sing Buri, Central Phuket 2 and the Triphum theme park in Phuket.

Other openings include residences and suites in Qatar, as well as Tops Plaza Amphur Phon, Khon Kaen and Pattalung, Zen Pathong in Phuket, Robinson Lifestyle in Chaiyaphum, and I-City Mall, the group’s first overseas mall, in Malaysia.

An extra 459 stores will be opened in Thailand and Vietnam this year.

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