CP All still expects to achieve 5-per-cent growth in sales at its leading 7-Eleven convenience store chain this year by adding 600 branches, despite the political problems hampering the retail industry.
“The political conflict should not deflect the company’s sales this year. Operations and supplies can be managed as normal as most deliveries and transactions are done after midnight and have not been interrupted by the demonstrations,” vice chairman Piyawat Titasattavorakul said yesterday.
He told the “CP All SMEs Forum 2014 on penetrating CLMV… Future of SMEs” that sales of 7-Elevens in the seven areas that have been seized by protesters are surging, while slightly slipping in some other areas due to the shifting of people.
CP All is shooting for up to 8,000 branches by year-end, ensuring that 7-Eleven remains as the largest convenience store network in the country.
The firm is also planning to penetrate China and Indonesia. It has already obtained the business licences for those countries from the trademark holder in the United States.
To help SMEs, 7-Eleven is giving them the chance to market their products at its outlets. About 400 SMEs should be able to sell their merchandise in 7-Elevens this year.
This strategy would help them strengthen their business. Those SMEs should be able to trade with other Asean countries, particularly Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as they are closer in terms of transportation.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand, said Myanmar is one of the best destinations for Thai SMEs to increase trade and investment.
Other high-potential markets for Thais are Laos and Cambodia. The combined populations of those three markets could reach 100 million.
Srirat Rastapana, permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, said Thai enterprises should look to Asean as a local market with no borders and no duties. They are advised to start with the CLMV countries, as they are on the border or are close, have similar demands and pose fewer barriers.
According to the seminar, trade between Thailand and the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar rose Bt60 billion to Bt390 billion last year.
To promote exports, Srirat has ordered 65 Thai trade representatives in 65 overseas posts to foster the understanding among foreign traders that the current political conflict in Thailand has not weakened the country’s export competency.
Thai shipments this quarter should continue to grow. The weakening baht and private enterprises’ efforts to push exports should result in growth.
The ministry is also closely monitoring the US’ move to cut its quantitative measures for signs of a softening in demand for Thai products.
The domestic political conflict has not yet made much of a difference to the Thai trading industry as shipments and manufacturing have not been interrupted.
The Commerce Ministry is insisting on staging three international trade fairs next month in Bangkok.
They are the Bangkok Gems and Jewellery, furniture, and houseware and gift fairs.
The ministry and companies would try to do business as usual as long as transportation has not been cut, she added.