Central Retail Corporation (CRC) is targeting 9-11% revenue growth in 2024, mainly driven by improved tourism and consumption, while voicing concerns over an influx of cheap imported goods.
Yol Phokasub, chief executive of CRC, said this year's overall spending confidence in Thailand is still above average, despite slow economic expansion, with a GDP growth rate of less than 2% recorded in 2023.
Mr Yol said an upward trend of international tourism had resulted in more quality visitors with higher spending power.
The Easy E-Receipt programme, a tax incentive scheme launched by the government, is a campaign that helped boost expenditure among domestic consumers.
With the retail segment in Thailand worth 4 trillion baht, Mr Yol said this sector is expected to grow at a maximum of 2-3% this year, along with the projection of GDP growth at 3.2% in 2024.
However, he said it was also possible that retail growth would be lower than the GDP rate due to various factors, such as an influx of foreign products with lower prices.
He said the government should offer programmes to keep stimulating domestic consumption and tourism spending.
Mr Yol said he agreed with the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking proposal asking for the removal of VAT exemption on online purchases under 1,500 baht.
However, imported goods that could spur foreign tourist spending should have a lower rate of tax collection.
Mr Yol said slow global GDP growth of only 3.1% was expected in 2024, with a long period of high interest rates and ongoing geopolitical tension still factors to watch this year.
Out of 22-24 billion baht in capital expenditure that CRC has prepared for this year, about 75-80% will be allocated to businesses in Thailand, while the remainder will cater to Vietnam, known for a large capacity for the food industry, and Italy for its luxury retail segment.
This year, CRC aims for an increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of 15-17%.
CRC plans to launch more than 40 mid-to-large-scale stores this year. This will make its total portfolio reach over 455 stores in three countries.
Its notable brands include Central Department Store, Thaiwatsadu, Tops, Robinson, GO Wholesale as well as GO! Mall and Mini GO! in Vietnam.
The renovation of its flagship Central Chidlom store will be completed by the end of this year, with the aim of becoming a world-class luxury destination.
It will open seven more GO Wholesale stores this year to cater to the wholesale food industry in Thailand, on top of its current five stores, and also nine new Thaiwatsadu stores in addition to its 81 existing branches.
Driven by a family-focused market, the firm hopes to operate a total of 42 GO! Mall outlets in Vietnam this year.
Its Rinascente group in Italy also reported a sales record of €1 billion last year.