CENTRAL Group will focus on launching all of its strategic businesses in Vietnam, its second-largest market.
“There are many businesses, especially hotels and shopping malls, that have not been yet been developed in Vietnam by Central Group. We will also continue the expansion of our existing businesses in the country,” Jariya Chirathivat, a representative of Central Group and Central Group Vietnam, said yesterday.
Central Group employs 11,500 people in Vietnam. Most are Vietnamese. They work at the group’s stores, logistics centres and head office.
Central Group Vietnam was established in 2011 with the debut of a 450-square-metre Supersport store, along with Crocs and New Balance stores, in the Vincom Centre Ba Trieu, the most luxurious shopping centre in Hanoi.
The company now runs 26 stores in Vietnam – 11 Supersport, nine Crocs, five New Balance and one Speedo store.
However, it will triple its presence in Vietnam with the acquisition, along with Nguyen Kim, of Big C Vietnam’s 43 branches comprising 33 hypermarkets and 10 convenience stores in a 920-million-euro (Bt35.7 billion) deal.
The “C” of Big C stands for “Central”, because this brand was created by Central Group.
“We will continue the expansion of our major retail chains in Vietnam. We plan to open four to five stores every year from each of our major retail chains, comprising Big C, Nguyen Kim and Lan Chi Mart,” Jariya said.
“Our future investment in Vietnam will be through joint ventures with local partners in the country so that we can transfer our know-how and experience and grow the business together.”
Sanan Angubolkul, president of the Thailand-Vietnam Business Council and chairman and president of Srithai Superware, said the outstanding characteristics of Vietnam, compared with other neighbouring countries, was the government’s stability and its policy to promote foreign investment.
The Communist government has also revised laws and regulations to make foreign investment more convenient and effective.
“The Vietnamese government decided to participate in various bilateral and mutual trade deals, especially free-trade agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will benefit the country’s exports to the US and Europe,” he said.
“Trade between Thailand and Vietnam is expected to increase dramatically from US$14 billion last year to about $20 billion in 2020. Thailand is now ranked as the seventh-largest foreign investor in Vietnam, up from 11th last year,” he said.
Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, said Vietnam offered huge investment opportunities for Thai investors, thanks to the Vietnamese government’s decision to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which can enhance shared trade benefits by eliminating barriers in the expansion of exports into countries.
“We will propose to the Thai government the introduction of the Thailand Plus team in Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia to help support and facilitate Thai investors who have expanded their business into these markets,” he said.
The Thailand Plus team will be officially set up in Thailand next month with representatives from the government, including the Commerce and Foreign ministries and Board of Investment, as well as the private sector, such as business councils and associations.
The team will conduct insight studies about trade and investment regulations to be advised to the Thai government to enhance government-to-government discussions in order to remove those trade and investment limitations.