Empowering Change For A Better Future
Business Empowerment Leader
Suchada Ithijarukul

Central Food Wholesales was established in 2022, starting a new journey for Suchada Ithijarukul, a leading figure in Thailand’s food wholesale industry for nearly three decades.

Within four months of launching its first Go Wholesale store in Srinakarin, the group opened another four outlets in Bangkok and upcountry, making it a rising player in Thailand's 2.6-trillion-baht food wholesale industry.

At the age of 71, Mrs Suchada resumed her leadership role as group chief executive for Thailand and international at Central Food Wholesales, under Central Retail Corporation (CRC), the operator of Go Wholesale, after retiring from Siam Makro, a food wholesale conglomerate, where she was chief executive for 21 years.

Barely four months into retirement, she was approached by a top executive of Central Group, persuading her to build up a new business in the wholesale food segment, as it was already a major presence in the premium retail industry.

“I immediately saw this as a new opportunity where I can help fulfill the margin, because being a food wholesaler has been my career for half of my life,” she said.

“The charm of food wholesale is the fun and challenge in dealing with numerous clients in the food business supply chain, including professional chefs, restaurants, street food vendors, hotels, canteens and even online food sellers.”

Mrs Suchada said she loves working with people, from her team at the headquarters, outlet employees, suppliers as well as business customers, as they can celebrate business success together.

“Being a female leader there are concerns about motherhood. I view all employees as my children and siblings, because they have been working for me and the company,” she said.

Her career started with a small position as an auditor at the age of 21, after graduating from the commerce and accountancy faculty at Chulalongkorn University.

Mrs Suchada later advanced her career path in financial roles, including serving as vice-president of finance of Rama Tower, developing Rama Gardens Hotel Bangkok and acting as corporate finance director at Inchcape, before joining Makro in 1995 as finance director at the age of 42.

After six years there, she became chief executive of Siam Makro in 2001, before CP acquired Siam Makro in 2013.

Leading Siam Makro through numerous crises, including the Tom Yam Kung crisis in 1997, the subprime crisis in 2008, the floods in 2011 and the pandemic from 2020-22, helped prove her expertise in the industry, as she grew the company from 10 stores generating 10 billion baht in sales in 1995 to over 150 stores with 200 billion baht before she left in 2022.

Unlike her past journey with Makro, which had been active for seven years before she joined the company, Mrs Suchada had to start from zero with Central Food Wholesales to build up an entirely new company.

In September 2022, Mrs Suchada started with seven team members who had experience in the field, outlining their vision, business plan and work system in order to operate a food wholesale store.

The company finally launched its first Go Wholesale store in October 2023, with 180 store staff and another 200 employees at the head office.

She said all staff working at the first store had to be trained and prepared products in vacant lots in Huamark Town Center, where the Central Food Wholesales office is located, since there was no Go Wholesale store at that time.

“Our key to success is our commitment to the business,” said Mrs Suchada. “We also outlined our five-year business plan and detailed our strategy in opening new stores from the beginning.”

Each outlet is expected to break-even within 1-2 years after opening, while the group should break-even within 3-4 years or by 2027.

She said the company is focusing on dedicated service more than before, not just being a middleman which sells products to customers.

For instance, it is offering raw meat trimming and cutting and has dedicated a large raw flesh producing area at a reasonable price.

By paying attention to customer experience, Go Wholesale offers wide aisles allowing them to shop for products comfortably, as well as earn points under the loyalty programme to benefit from all brands and services under the Central Group.

It has also been helping local farmers and producers to develop quality products and help match them up with buyers.

The company plans to operate 45 Go Wholesale stores nationwide within five years, generating 60-70 billion baht revenue.

Mrs Suchada is also a member of the Rotary Centre in Thailand, and once served as the governor for District 3350, overseeing Bangkok and the Central region between 2010 and 2011.

“ At the age of 71, Mrs. Suchada resumed her leadership role as group chief executive for Thailand and international at Central Food Wholesales. ”
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