Thai billionaire Dhanin’s CP All may open stores in China, Laos

CP All Pcl (CPALL), the Thai 7-Eleven convenience-store operator controlled by billionaire DhaninChearavanont, said it may open outlets in China and neighboring Southeast Asian countries to tap rising incomes.

The Bangkok-based retailer aims to boost revenue by at least 15 percent annually by adding stores, KriengchaiBoonpoapichart, head of finance and investor relations, said in an interview today. CP All, the world’s third-largest 7-Eleven chain operator by number of stores, plans to open about 500 new outlets a year, with more than half outside Bangkok, he said.
CP All, which operates about 6,000 convenience stores in Thailand and boosted its profit almost fivefold in the last three years on outlet expansion, aims to tap demand in regions of China outside Beijing and Shanghai and may bid for a franchise in the country’s north, Kriengchai said. The retailer may also start stores in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
“We are exploring opportunities in China where there is still vast potential with incomes rising,” Kriengchai said. “Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia are also on the company’s expansion plan with their underdeveloped retail industry.”
China overtook Japan to become the second-largest economy last year and Premier Wen Jiabao is promoting domestic consumption to bolster growth and cut reliance on exports.
CP All plans to increase sales of ready-to-eat meals such as hamburgers, sandwiches and bakery products, which yield higher margins, to bolster earnings growth, said Kriengchai.
Shares of CP All have added 1.9 percent this year, extending a 58 percent rally in 2010 and more than doubling in value in 2009. Chairman Dhanin, 71, was Thailand’s richest person with estimated assets of $6.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s annual global ranking released last month.

Eyes Election Boost

CP All expects to benefit from an expected jump in domestic spending ahead of national elections as Thai Prime Minister AbhisitVejjajiva’s government accelerates investment in public works and other programs to lure voters, Kriengchai said.
“Historically, there has been a boost in consumer spending ahead of the general elections,” he said. “Consumers probably have more money and confidence to spend with more money supplyfrom election-related programs.”
Abhisit has said he’ll dissolve Parliament in early May to trigger an election about six months before his term ends. The prime minister last month pledged policies to help families cope with rising fuel and food costs that threaten to undermine his Democrat party’s poll gains and said he aims “to help put money in people’s pockets.”

CP All, which opened its first store in 1989, posted revenue of 135 billion baht ($4.5 billion) last year. Net income climbed 33 percent to 6.66 billion baht. The company is the largest operator by number of outlets of Tokyo-based Seven & I Holdings Co.’s 7-Eleven stores after Japan and the U.S. – Bloomberg News

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