CP All Plc, the operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores, will adopt various strategies to do battle with the Family Mart, Lawson, Mini Big C and Tesco Express brands next year.
Central Retail Corporation's Family Mart, Saha Group's Lawson, Tesco and Big C are all trying to attract more customers.
They all want to latch onto the higher purchasing power of customers and cash in on the bigger customer base.
When Asean becomes a single market due to the implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2016, more foreign investment and tourists are likely to come to Thailand.
At a seminar on "Thailand's Retail Outlook in 2013" earlier this week, retail gurus agreed that convenience stores are the rising star in the retail sector for expansion next year.
Suwit Kingkaew, president of the Development of Thai Capital Retailers Association, said the increase in the minimum wage to 300 baht throughout the country and higher incomes from rising farm product prices would increase purchasing power.
These factors will stimulate all convenience store operators to speed up their investments next year.
Mr Suwit forecast that at least 1,000 new convenience stores from all chains will be opened in 2013, higher than the average of 750-800 in previous years.
Piyawat Titasattaworakul, president of CP All, said as the market has many positive factors, the company will open 540 new 7-Eleven stores next year, up from 450-500 new outlets this year.
"Customers will see and touch many big changes at our 7-Eleven convenience stores next year, from product merchandise to premium offerings," Mr Piyawat said.
CP All will not only offer unique products but also have premium products for redemption. Trendy items will be added at its stores.
More international brands will be available at 7-Eleven stores, particularly at tourist destinations where staff who can speak Chinese, Japanese or English will communicate with customers.
Mr Piyawat said Thai households are smaller than in the past and customers have less time and loyalty, so the company will offer more products responding to their requirements, particularly their interest in health and the environment.
Logistics will be adjusted to reduce costs, but the government has to support the private sector with new know-how, said Mr Piyawat.
Mr Suwit, who is also with 7-Eleven, estimated the convenience store segment will grow by 15% next year.
To respond to this accelerated pace of expansion, the company is planning to spend about 1 billion baht to open two more distribution centres. One of the centres will be on a 100-rai plot in Samut Sakhon province, while the other is expected to be set up on a 50-rai plot in Chon Buri.
About the author
- Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter