Thai giant Central Group is reportedly defending its status as the country’s retail leader with an expansion into warehouse food stores, challenging its competitor Charoen Pokphand (CP).
Central Group’s retail arm Central Retail Corp. (CRC) is set to open its first GO Wholesale store in a Bangkok. The company announced plans for investing THB 20 billion (USD 540 million) over the next five years to open 43 locations in Thailand.
GO Wholesale is a membership-only warehouse club similar to the American Costco. It focuses on restaurants, food stalls and other small and midsize businesses, though retail shoppers can also join. The first store will have an area of 7,000 square meters and focus on fresh meat, fish and produce.
It is reported that Thailand’s many small restaurants and food stalls have strong demand for affordable ingredients. While buying from wet markets used to be the norm, there is a growing preference for modern retailers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thailand’s market for bulk food has been dominated by Makro, operated by rival conglomerate CP. The chain sells everything from food to daily necessities and home appliances. Makro counts over 140 stores in Thailand, as well as 10 in other countries.
In addition, CP operates in Thailand convenience store leader 7-Eleven, which has over 13,000 locations in the Southeast Asian country and accounts for 80% of its convenience store market. CP also bought the Southeast Asian arm of Britain’s Tesco for USD 10.6 billion in 2020, giving the company about 2,000 stores in Thailand, far surpassing Central’s roughly 200.
(Source: Nikkei Asia)