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Siam Retail keeps faith in Thailand with Bt20 bn stake over 6 years

SIAM RETAIL Development Co is placing the biggest bet in its 23 years of operations on the future of Thailand by splurging Bt20 billion over six years to open new stores across the nation and refresh old shopping malls.

It expects the increase in retail space through new stores and renovation will help drive its sales up to Bt8 billion in six years from Bt2.97 billion last year.

About Bt2.7 billion will be spent to renovate Fashion Island, Terminal 21 and The Promenade over three years.

At least three new stores will be launched in Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen and Nakhon Si Thammarat, while major tourism destinations such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket are being evaluated as prospective future locations, Prasert Sriuranpong, executive |director of the retail development arm of Land and Houses, the country's leading housing developer, said yesterday.

The company is investing long term to cash in on the trend towards economic prosperity of the country, especially with the rapid urbanisation in the provinces and the coming to fruition of the Asean Economic Community next year.

''Even though the country has suffered from the prolonged political tensions, the economy still shows strong fundamentals with continuous growth in the future. This is optimistic for our investment,'' he said.

The stores in the two northeastern provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima, known as Korat, and Khon Kaen will require Bt5 billion each. Korat will be operating first in early 2016 on a 52-rai site, followed by Khon Kaen later in the year on 55 rai. Both will have retail space of 70,000 square metres and will be named Terminal 21, after the company's successful retail centre in Bangkok.

The Nakhon Sri Thammarat property will be located on 41 rai. The firm has prepared Bt3 billion for construction, but details on its concept and name are pending deeper study of local lifestyles. The province shows clear potential with a growing rubber industry.

Korat is the gateway to the Northeast and Khon Kaen the capital of upper Isaan.

They boast a combined population of 4.6 million people with greater spending power. Infrastructure will also be improved, especially in Korat, which will be reached by two-rail trains and bullet trains. Korat will grow exponentially in the future, similar to Bangkok.

Recently, Central Group revealed plans for a CentralPlaza as the biggest store in Korat. Construction of the shopping complex occupying 52 rai outside the city centre will cost Bt7 billion with completion scheduled in early 2016. Currently, The Mall is the big player in Korat.

The entry of Terminal 21 in Korat would intensify competition, but there was more room for growth there, as it is a big province with high spending power.

This was a challenging year for the company due to the political unrest, which undermined foreign tourists' confidence, resulting in a drop in arrivals. The firm projects its sales expanding 7 per cent this year.

Siam Retail manages four mall brands - Fashion Island, Terminal 21, The Promenade and Life Center. Terminal 21 is located at the Asok Intersection, recently a base of the anti-government protesters. It is a popular shopping destination for foreign tourists.


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