Siam Makro splashes B11bn on expansion
New stores, platform in the works
Siam Makro Plc, the operator of Makro cash-and-carry stores, looks set to splurge 11 billion baht this year to expand its business.
Suchada Ithijarukul, the group's chief executive, said the investment will be used to open 30 new Makro stores in Thailand, three in India and two in Cambodia.
The expansion plan puts the total number of Makro stores at 184 this year. Of the total, 172 stores are located in Thailand and 12 are in foreign markets.
"Our sales in the first quarter this year improved for restaurant and hotel units," said Mrs Suchada.
She said opening Makro's Food Service stores this year is a focus. The stores are sized between 1,000-2,000 square metres, which means they need less investment, while still meeting customer requirements, said Mrs Suchada.
Makro's original format will be upgraded to a delivery hub for Food Service customers, she said.
The company will also invest to expand the businesses of Siam Food Services Ltd, its importer and distributor of frozen and chilled products, said Mrs Suchada.
Another outlay is for "maknet", a new B2B (business-to-business) marketplace platform expected to launch in the second quarter this year, said Mrs Suchada.
Siam Makro has engaged in offline-to-online business since 2019, starting with MakroClick, which provides all products at Makro's physical stores online, both via the website and mobile applications.
This is in response to changes in the purchasing behaviour of B2B customers, who demand a one-stop solution for both products and services as well as convenience and effectiveness in making purchases, she said.
MakroClick now has 500,000 customers.
"More younger customers are doing business with Makro and they require more product varieties and services. Maknet was created as a solution for business owners," said Mrs Suchada.
"The platform will help us expand not only the customer base and supplier base, but also the service base."
She said the platform serves as an online wholesale marketplace, providing an end-to-end solution offering products and services to restaurant operators, allowing them to purchase items available in Makro stores or more than 1,000 partner stores, in addition to other services for restaurant operation.
The platform should provide small businesses access to this new channel, projected to offer 350,000 items in 2024, said Mrs Suchada.
The company expects 7,000 businesses to sign up for its new platform.
"Maknet applications will be an important jigsaw piece to support the future growth of Makro, boosting sales from omni-channel from 12% of the total last year to 30% in three years," she said.