Berli Jucker budgets B10 billion to expand in 2019

Berli Jucker budgets B10 billion to expand in 2019

Big C parent commits to growth in Thailand

TCC Group chairman Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (inset) plans a 10-billion baht expansion of Big C's superstores and outlets - and a factory in China. (File photos)
TCC Group chairman Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (inset) plans a 10-billion baht expansion of Big C's superstores and outlets - and a factory in China. (File photos)

Berli Jucker Plc (BJC), the owner of Big C Supercenter, plans to spend 10 billion baht to expand its retail business next year.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, chairman of TCC Group, the owner of Berli Jucker Plc, said during Thursday's Big C Expo 2018 that the company's overall business has done quite well and that he is committed to continuing investment in the Thai market.

"I don't have any concern so far and will continue to invest in the Thai market because the country's political situation is quite stable," Mr Charoen said.

Aswin Techajareonvikul, Berli Jucker's chief executive and president, said the company will continue opening all formats of retail stores next year because the company is confident in Thailand's economic fundamentals and the general election next year is expected to improve consumer sentiment.

"We are in the process of making our business plan for next year and expect to invest on a par with this year," Mr Aswin said.

Big C has recorded continuous growth after being bought by Berli Jucker Plc two years ago. Its customer base has increased to 16 million people from 10 million in that period.

"Competition is very fierce and consumer behaviour has rapidly changed," Mr Aswin said. "The company, therefore, will put more effort into enhancing the shopping experience for customers and offer them seamless shopping between online and offline."

In an attempt to increase customer satisfaction, the company recently set up a subsidiary in Guangzhou, China to source non-food products for sale at all Big C formats.

The new subsidiary in China will function as the sourcing centre for Chinese products at the Big C chain in Thailand. The new sourcing centre handles 3,000 items.

Mr Aswin said sales of products supplied by the China-based sourcing centre have reached 300-500 million baht so far.

If sales continue to grow well, the company will build a factory in China to expand business from downstream to upstream, he said.

"The products sourced from China are supplied not only to Thailand, but also to our network in Asean," Mr Aswin said.

In addition to China, the company plans to open the first Big C Supercenter in Malaysia soon.

"We are interested in Malaysia because there are few retail chains and Malaysian customers are quite familiar with Big C through our stores in Hat Yai and Pattani," Mr Aswin said.

The company is studying investment privileges offered by each state in Malaysia, as well as trade conditions.

Retail would be the third BJC business in Malaysia, after glass and snacks.

Apart from Malaysia, the company plans to open one Big C Supercenter in Laos next year. There are 46 M Point Mart stores in Laos. The company also plans to open the first Big C Supercenter in Cambodia.

Gary Hardy, BJC's chief operating officer for retail, said the company targeted Vietnam for strategic investment. Berli Jucker is set to open five MM Mega Market wholesale stores in Ho Chi Minh City next year, for which the company is considering locations.

The company is in the process of repositioning MM Mega Market in Vietnam from wholesale to hypermarkets or a hybrid of hypermarkets and convenience stores.

MM Mega Market may be renamed because Central Group, which acquired Big C in Vietnam a few years ago, will have the right to use the Big C name through the end of this year. That means the Big C name will belong to BJC from early next year onward.

There are 19 MM Mega Markets in Vietnam. The company also plans to open more B's Mart convenience stores in Vietnam, where there are 144 B's Marts.

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