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Mini-supermarkets step up competition in Thailand

Nov 11, 2015

A renovated CP Fresh Mart on Ratchaphruek Road has more space and products. The company is revamping all 600 of its stores nationwide.

Competition among mini-supermarkets is getting even hotter, with CP Fresh Mart announcing plans to spend 1.2 billion baht to increase its number of outlets to 1,000 over the next three years, challenging big players in the field led by Tesco Express. With growing urbanisation and consumers too busy to spend time in long queues at supermarkets for a few items, mini-supermarkets have become popular and expanded greatly in recent years.

This year alone, at least 125 new outlets will be opened by Tesco Express, Mini Big C and Tops Daily, taking the number from these operators to more than 1,920 nationwide.

Instead of adding new stores this year, CP Fresh Mart has started renovating its 600 stores.

“We also have a more aggressive plan to add 400 new stores under a new concept,” said Prasit Boondoungprasert, executive vice-president and head of commercial domestic and export food business at CPF Trading Co, a unit of Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc (CPF).

“The remodel features greater space of up to 100 square metres, twice as much as at existing stores, allowing us to offer 1,500 food items made by both CP subsidiaries and outsiders.”

Mr Prasit is confident the change could attract consumers and help increase sales by about 10%.

It will take about three years for CPF Trading to revamp all 600 stores. Simultaneously, at least 400 new stores will be built with an investment budget of 1.2 billion baht.

To support its expansion, the company is hiring DHL to conduct a feasibility study into enhancing its distribution centre and logistics system.

It also plans to open CP Fresh Marts abroad, starting with countries where CPF has operations such as Turkey and Vietnam.

Salinla Seehaphan, director for corporate affairs at market leader Tesco Lotus, said the company was in the process of opening 50 Tesco Express mini-supermarkets this year, taking the total to more than 1,500 across the country.

Mini Big C has 375 branches, MaxValu Tanjai has 48 and Tops Daily 38. Get It of Tang Hua Seng Group is another player in the growing sector.

Aeon (Thailand) Co plans to boost the number of MaxValu mini-supermarkets to 400 by 2020. Although MaxValu has been in Thailand for 30 years, its outlets are not so popular among Thais, especially in Greater Bangkok.

Ms Salinla attributes the rising competition among mini-supermarkets to growing urbanisation and changing lifestyles that have given a boost to demand for their services in recent years.

A market observer believes the mini-supermarket format can access consumers more effectively and become an income generator for retail companies.

“People now tend to live in small families and are surrounded by bad traffic. To manage their time, they like to shop for a few items of food at a more convenient place than a big hypermarket,” he said.

Source: bangkokpost.com

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