Big C spreading hypermarkets around

Big C spreading hypermarkets around

A Big C Supercenter in Bangkok. The first Big C in Cambodia opened yesterday in Poipet. PATIPAT JANTHONG
A Big C Supercenter in Bangkok. The first Big C in Cambodia opened yesterday in Poipet. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Big C Supercenter plans to spend 6.5 billion baht next year for expansion both domestically and abroad.

Aswin Techajareonvikul, the company's chief executive, said 6 billion baht of the total is for the domestic market, with 500 million baht earmarked for international expansion.

"We are committed to investing in Thailand next year because we are confident in the country's economic foundation," Mr Aswin said.

But the company's domestic outlay will decline from 8-10 billion baht this year as the company looks to expand with small retail outlets (Mini Big C) to better reach customers in Bangkok and major cities nationwide.

Of the 6 billion baht for the domestic market, 5.5 billion baht will be used to open 5-7 new Big C hypermarkets and 300-400 Mini Big C stores next year. About 500 million baht will be used for IT facilities.

For the domestic market, the company is conducting a feasibility study of the "town centre" concept as part of plans to increase income from leasable area.

The first town centre will be built with space of 3,000-5,000 square metres.

In 2019, Big C operates 153 hypermarkets, 63 Big C markets and 1,018 Mini Big C stores with 900,000 sq m of leasable area. Big C's sales totalled 140 billion baht in 2018 and are expected to grow by 5% this year.

Gary Hardy, the company's chief operating officer for international operations, said the company will open one Big C hypermarket and 20 Mini Big C stores in Vientiane, Laos next year.

Yesterday the company held the grand opening of the Big C hypermarket in Poipet, Cambodia.

"Cambodia's GDP has registered strong growth of 7% a year on average in the past five years, and purchasing power among locals has been rising," Mr Aswin said. "Big C Poipet is our first store in Cambodia."

He said the company invested 300 million baht to build Big C Poipet on 20 rai. The hypermarket is 8,000 sq m, with 3,000 sq m of sales area and rental space of 5,000 sq m.

All spaces have been rented by Thai and local entrepreneurs from several sectors, including Major Cineplex, Thailand's biggest cinema operator.

Big C Poipet operates from 9am to 10pm every day. The company expects the business expansion in Cambodia to create 1,200 jobs over the next five years.

The company plans to open five or six Big C hypermarket stores in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap over the next two years.

Mr Hardy anticipates sales of 250 million baht from the Big C Poipet branch in the first year of operations and expects average annual growth of 5-6% in the future.

"From next year, we will pay more attention to expanding our retail business abroad, focusing on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where the economies are strong," Mr Aswin said.

As part of the international expansion, a further 1 billion baht will be spent by Berli Jucker, which owns a majority stake in Big C Supercenter, to open three MM Mega Market wholesales stores in Vietnam next year, bringing total MM Mega Market stores there to 21 branches in 2020.

Berli Jucker is conducting a feasibility study to open 5-10 new food service stores in tourist destinations, including Halong and Da Nang, for Horeca (hotel, restaurant, catering) clients and cash in on growing tourism business in Vietnam.

The food service retail format will have sales space of 2,000-4,000 sq m.

The company is also conducting a feasibility study to expand retail business in Myanmar.

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