CFR set to double investment allocation
Central Food Retail Co (CFR), the operator of Tops Market, Central Food Hall and Tops Superstore, looks set to double its investment budget this year to accelerate its store expansion after seeing clearer signs of recovery.
Sujita Phengoun, the company's chief operating officer for large-format branches, said that the company plans to spend 675 million baht to open 15 new large-format stores for Tops Market this year, compared to only seven and eight new stores opened in 2020 and 2021, respectively. With this investment plan, the total number of large-format Tops supermarkets will reach 123 branches by the end of this year.
However, half of the new Tops Market outlets to be opened this year will be geared towards community malls rather than large shopping complexes, as was the case in the past.
"During the Covid-19 pandemic, the frequency of shoppers who visit Tops Market stores located at large shopping complexes fell by two times a month, while the frequency of their visits to Tops Markets in community malls increased by 3-4 times," said Mrs Sujita. "Despite the pandemic situation getting better, we expect shoppers to keep on shopping at community malls."
In addition, Mrs Sujita said community mall operators will resume their expansion this year after postponing new investments over the past two years.
Likewise, Central Food Retail is developing Tops Markets in various ways to fit the consumers in each location.
In a related development on Thursday, the company officially launched a new Tops Market at Robinson Lifestyle Banchang, marking its 130th large-format store in Thailand, and the second Tops Market in Rayong.
The company believes in Rayong's potential because it is Thailand's main industrial province where many industrial estates are located, and is also a high-potential secondary city for tourism.
Consumers in Rayong and neighbouring provinces have a high potential and purchasing power, the company added. The city of Rayong also welcomed 161,000 visitors in January 2022, a 309.73% increase compared to the same period last year, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
More importantly, the province has plans for a high-speed train project linking three airports and has co-developed local areas in partnership with the government, local communities, and the private sector.
According to The 1 card database, Rayong customers shop at Tops Market once a week on average and spend around 700 baht per visit. Most of them are Gen X and Gen Y customers who are of working age.
According to Mrs Sujita, Tops Market at Robinson Lifestyle Banchang offers more than 18,000 items to consumers with seven new shop-in-shop concept stores inside.
The seven shop-in-shop concept stores at this new Tops Market are: the Healthiful shop-in-shop for health; Snacker, featuring snacks from around the world with Instagram-worthy designs; Asian Flavours for Asian products; The Baker Artisan Bakery; LOOKS beauty zone; Baby & Me products for mother and kids; and Petster petcare products.
"Tops Market at Robinson Lifestyle Banchang is a lifestyle supermarket where shoppers make their shopping more fun than ever, and is another shopping experience level in the new normal shopping,'' Mrs Sujita said.
Mrs Sujita said that sales at large-format Tops Markets in the first two months of this year grew by 5% year-on-year, and the firm expects to maintain this sales growth momentum throughout 2022, compared with only 1-2% growth last year.