Thai Beverage begins B1bn expansion

Thai Beverage begins B1bn expansion

Sakae, a new a la carte premium food brand targeting high-end consumers, is Thai Beverage's latest effort.
Sakae, a new a la carte premium food brand targeting high-end consumers, is Thai Beverage's latest effort.

Thai Beverage, the Singapore-listed Asean food and beverage company, is expanding its food business in the domestic market, vowing to splash about 1 billion baht on its food empire in fiscal 2021, starting from Oct 1.

Nongnuch Buranasetkul, the company's senior vice-president and chief of food business, said the company is committed to continuing investment this year, albeit in a more cautious manner, by upgrading efficiency and productivity as well as bringing the company's food brands to a wider base of customers.

The new investment is mostly to open 40-50 new restaurants this year, compared with 29 stores in the previous fiscal year.

Of the new stores, 30 will be opened for KFC to increase brand accessibility and penetration.

"The size and concept for the new stores may need to be rejigged at each location. We may invest more in small stores to reach customers at district levels," Mrs Nongnuch said.

She said the company is scheduled to open the first "grab & go" shop for ready-to-eat sushi and sandwiches at Fashion Island as a pilot project on Oct 16 to test the market response.

In addition to new stores, the company vows to develop new digital technology for innovative offerings to improve customers' experience.

According to Mrs Nongnuch, each food brand expansion will comply with the group's Passion 2025 vision, a new five-year strategic plan.

Passion 2025 aims to expand the group's business operations through three main approaches: building, strengthening and unlocking.

Building means to create new business opportunities in addition to the existing business. Strengthening refers to scaling up the core business to become a leader in integrated food and beverage business in Asean.

Unlock applies to leveraging ThaiBev's potential to maximise growth capabilities.

"As the majority of our food business is the dine-in format, we will transform our dine-in restaurants to a food delivery platform to reduce risk," she said.

"We expect the sales portion from the delivery channel will register more than double digits in the future."

The company has expanded delivery services to cover more than 200 KFC outlets.

The first KFC food truck service was introduced earlier this month as an effort to deliver better product quality.

ThaiBev has pledged to increase the variety of health and wellness menu items and add new categories that will be available both at restaurants and as packaged food for at-home consumption to capture rising demand driven by new lifestyles.

Recently the company launched Sakae, new a la carte premium food brand targeting high-end consumers.

"The pandemic caused a hiccup in sales, but also helped accelerate innovation for a new customer experience and boost people's awareness of health. This is the right time for health food consumption and we will increase our health food choices to consumers, including more plant-based menus," Mrs Nongnuch said.

As of September this year, the group's food business operated 649 branches, compared with 561 and 620 branches at the end of 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Of the 649 branches, 339 stores belonged to The QSR of Asia including KFC, 270 stores to Oishi and the remainder to other food brands.

According to Kasikorn Research Center, Thailand's overall food business is estimated at 385-389 billion baht in 2020, a rise of 9.7-10.6% from 2019. Of the total, 100 billion baht is made up by chain restaurants and the remaining 285-289 billion comes from street food.

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