Tesco will roll out Internet shopping in the Thai market this year, said John Christie, CEO of Tesco Lotus, the UK-based retailer's Thai operation.
The launch of Internet shopping is an important part of the company’s strategy to grow its retail business in Thailand, he said. The firm has already started online shopping in Britain and Eastern Europe. Thailand will be the first market in Southeast Asia for the initiative, which is expected to be one of its more profitable businesses in the near future.
“My priority is to innovate to provide a better shopping experience and a wider product range for customers,” said Christie, who became the new chief executive at Tesco Lotus on February 27. “We will also enhance the quality of our fresh-food products, as they are important to our customers.
“Moreover, we will focus on our people, particularly career development and talent management, to ensure that we continue our business success in years to come.
“In the medium and long terms, I wish to see Tesco Lotus continue leading the retail industry in Thailand by bringing innovation to benefit our customers. I also wish to see Tesco Lotus grow alongside Thai suppliers, farmers, our people and our communities,” he said.
Tesco Lotus’ Internet shopping will allow customers to order dry and fresh-food products via a simple and easy platform.
“We have seen the potential of Internet shopping here, especially in some parts of the country where Internet penetration is high,” he said.
Christie yesterday announced his business philosophy of “growing together” in Thailand.
“Under the philosophy, we will continue to invest in Thailand while providing growing benefits to customers, employees, communities and the Thai economy,” he said.
Over the past 17 years, Tesco Lotus has made significant contributions to the Thai economy by investing more than Bt130 billion and providing business opportunities to more than 9,000 local suppliers and 14,000 small and medium-sized enterprises that sell their products in Tesco Lotus malls, he said.
Tesco Lotus has focused on purchasing local products and has helped export those Thai products through its global retail network, presenting them in 13 different markets around the world. The company has also created more than 40,000 jobs locally and continues to invest in career development as well as pay and benefits for staff, he said.
Christie said Tesco Lotus would this year invest significantly in the Thai market, specifically opening new stores and revamping and modernising existing malls. The company will also open new distribution centres in the North, Northeast and South.
“We expect to open at least 300 new stores across all formats this year, from Express to Extra. It will create about 9,000 new jobs,” he said. Tesco Lotus had more than 900 stores at the end of 2011.
He added that Tesco Lotus had two Extra stores – one on Rama IV Road in Bangkok and one in Khon Kaen. The company is converting its existing hypermarket on Bang Na-Trat Road to the new Extra format. The conversion, which is 80 per cent complete, is expected to increase sales by about 20 per cent.
About five Tesco Lotus hypermarkets will be converted to the Extra format this year.
“We are confident in the Thai economy and will continue our investment in 2012 to enhance benefits for customers, employees, communities and the Thai economy,” Christie said.
There are opportunities for modern trade to grow further in Thailand, he said. Currently, traditional trade channels represent about 60 per cent of the total retail industry here. Tesco Lotus has been growing at a faster pace in the past few years because the Thai economy is improving, he added.