Big C confirms Tesco interest

Big C confirms Tesco interest

Firm studying impact of bidding for assets

A shopper walks past a Big C Supercenter in Bangkok. The company operates 1,231 stores across the country. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
A shopper walks past a Big C Supercenter in Bangkok. The company operates 1,231 stores across the country. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The top boss of Big C Supercenter has acknowledged that the company is keen to acquire Tesco's Asia business and has submitted its intent to bid.

Aswin Techajareonvikul, the company's chief executive, said the business model of Big C and Tesco are different in terms of products and locations.

"We operate stores in about 60 provinces, while Tesco has stores in some provinces we don't," Mr Aswin said. "We believe that if we add Tesco to our portfolio, it will help extend our retail business."

Big C needs to carefully study the pricing of the deal, the legal issues and the impact on all stakeholders, he said.

"The key factors are an appropriate price, the competition and the law," Mr Aswin said. "We are interested because Tesco has a strong business foundation in several provinces and various business formats that will help strengthen Big C's business."

According to the Financial Times, Central Group and TCC Group are also considering the acquisition. PTT, Thailand's state-owned energy company, plans to make a bid as well, according to Reuters. Bids are due Jan 15.

But the chief executive of PTT Plc has denied that subsidiary PTT Oil and Retail (PTTOR) will bid for Tesco's operations, saying the supermarket business is not part of the group's core competency.

Mr Aswin said that while the competition in Thailand's retail sector is fierce, the company still enjoys high competitiveness and has accrued a great deal of experience to enable it to compete with international companies.

Big C via all business formats has a sales floor of 800,000-900,000 square metres.

As of Jan 15, the company runs 1,231 stores nationwide. Of the total, about 150 stores are hypermarkets, 1,018 branches are under Mini Big C and the rest are other formats.

Pattaphong Iamsuro, chief commercial officer of Big C Supercenter, said that while waiting for results of the bid for Tesco, the company has no plans to open any big new stores in the first half of 2020.

In the second half, the company will open three Big C Supercenter stores, Mr Pattaphong said.

"Consumer purchasing power in 2020 is very challenging," he said. "The lower GDP rate and drought will prompt consumers overall to be cautious about their spending. However, we still hope that the government's stimulus measures will work to help boost consumers' spending."

The company also plans to beef up sales promotion events at stores this year to entice customers.

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