Tesco fetes 2,000th store with growth plan

Tesco fetes 2,000th store with growth plan

Mr Sompong says Tesco is committed to continued investment in Thailand. PITSINEE JITPLEECHEEP
Mr Sompong says Tesco is committed to continued investment in Thailand. PITSINEE JITPLEECHEEP

Ek-chai Distribution System Co, the operator of Tesco Lotus hypermarkets, is expanding its retail space by a total of 55,000 square metres this fiscal year, which began in March, to cash in on improved prospects in the retail business sector next year.

Chief executive Sompong Rungnirattisai made the announcement. In past years, the company expanded its total retail space by just 30,000-50,000 sq m annually, suggesting that an uptick is on the cards.

The company has opened 45 new Tesco stores this year: six hypermarkets, one department store, one Talad and 37 Tesco Express locations.

That leaves it with 27,500 sq m yet to fill in the remaining four months and one week of 2018 if it is to meet its goal. Mr Sompong said the main focus moving forward would be second-tier cities.

As of February, Tesco Lotus's total retail floor space stood at 1.437 million sq m.

"Thailand is Tesco Group's largest international market outside the United Kingdom," Mr Sompong said. "We are committed to continuing to invest here. Thailand is an interesting country to invest because per capita income keeps rising along with increased urbanisation. These are both positive factors for our retail business."

He pointed to improved consumer confidence last month as another positive sign.

The company opened its 2,000th store in Thailand on Thursday, a Tesco Lotus hypermarket in the Bang Kruai-Sai Noi area in Nonthaburi northwest of Bangkok.

"Today marks a very important milestone for Tesco Lotus," Mr Sompong said. "[This] is the largest hypermarket to open here in the last four years in terms of supermarket sales floor space."

Of its 24,000 sq m of retail space, 5,500 sq m is for the hypermarket and 17,000 sq m for a shopping mall housing about 100 tenants. The rest is taken up by parking areas and other facilities.

The latest branches will create over 1,000 jobs for local communities, Mr Sompong said, adding that the company plans to expand its distribution channels for farmers and SMEs supplying products to Tesco.

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