Central Pattana Plc, the SET-listed property and retail developer under Central Group of Companies, plans to open permanent zones for local entrepreneurs at CentralPlaza Chiang Mai Airport and Khon Kaen branches in December to help promote small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Preecha Ekkunagul, the company's president and chief executive, said the company will cooperate with the Department of International Trade Promotion to select products from local entrepreneurs nationwide in the new zones.
The SME zones are expected to expand to all Central branches nationwide by 2019, with over 1,000 local entrepreneurs participating, he said.
Mr Preecha said the company is joining hands with Thammasat University to provide CPNlead course -- a curriculum for entrepreneurs both small and large to hone their competitiveness internationally. Through the course, the company will share its experience in expanding sales opportunities.
"As business becomes more challenging, entrepreneurs of all sizes need to adapt to record sustainable growth," he said. "The course will focus on new business models, innovation, product development ideas, and brand concepts."
The company also operates "SME Marketplace", offering space at its malls to over 5,000 local SMEs who sell Otop, provincial and agricultural items.
Nattakit Tangpoonsinthana, CPN's executive vice-president of marketing, said it is the first company in the retail industry to initiate a training course for Thai SMEs.
"The new generation of businesspeople is very creative and has passion, and CPN wants to help them pursue their dreams," he said.
In a related development, Mr Nattakit said the company is likely to finalise a plan to acquire Grand Canal Land Plc (GLAND) early next month.
CPN Pattaya, its subsidiary, is launching a mandatory tender offer for the remaining shares in GLAND after CPN's board of directors approved the acquisition in September of 3.28 billion shares or 50.43% of total issued and outstanding shares of Grand Canal by CPN Pattaya at a price of 3.10 baht a share. The amount is worth 10.16 billion baht. The tender offer period ends today.
CPN shares closed on Tuesday on the SET at 77.25 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 144 million baht.