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  Regional push eyed for Loft


SIAM Specialty Co Ltd, the Thai franchisee of Japan’s Loft lifestyle stores, is in discussions to take the brand farther afield and open outlets within the region.

Thailand is the only market for Sogo & Seibu outside Japan for its Loft stores.
Siam Specialty has been the Thai franchisee for Loft for more than 20 years. The company operates four outlets, at Siam Discovery, Paradise Park, Megabangna and Spell Future Park Rangsit.
Krisda Rintranukul, managing director of Siam Specialty, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Siam Piwat Co Ltd, said that the company would open its largest Loft store in Thailand at Iconsiam, a major new shopping complex for the capital, in October next year. The Iconsiam store will require investment of nearly Bt100 million.
Occupying total retail space of more than 2,000 square metres - 1.5 times that of the Loft store at Siam Discovery - the new store will carry 1.4 times more product items than the Siam Discovery outlet, which displays about 50,000 products. “With the new Loft outlet at Iconsiam, we will deploy the a merchandising concept that will add to the more complete range of health and beauty products and services, such as a ‘beauty lab', and this will include a variety of products, such as stationery and IT items and home decoration products.
“The new Loft store will become the company's flagship model in exploring the idea of taking the Loft business into other potential markets in Asean, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam. The company has been sought out by many shopping mall operators in the region who have expressed their interest in opening a Loft store in their countries.
"Our Japanese franchisor Sogo & Seibu has the strong intention of expanding Loft stores outside Japan and they have seen much success in the development of Loft stores in Thailand over the past 20 years.”
Sogo & Seibu is a specialty store arm of Seven & i Holdings, a Japanese diversified retail group, which includes the owner and operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan. Sogo & Seibu operates more than 110 Loft stores in Japan.
Krisda said that the regional expansion of the Loft lifestyle stores would be undertaken a number of options, including by the company's own expansion, through joint ventures with the Japanese franchisor, or with local partners in the target markets.
He said that, factoring in the regional expansion, the company expected to operate about eight Loft stores in total within five years. The future expansion would depend on opportunities and the company is quite open on different formats and sizes for the outlets.
Siam Specialty yesterday announced the launch of the “Loft the World of Ultimate Gifts 2018” campaign to celebrate the coming New Year shopping festival. Loft will also provide a catalogue to facilitate online shopping.
Krisda said that the company started its online shopping business for Loft last year. This channel contributes contributes about 1 per cent of total sales. “We expect to achieve Bt3 million in online sales this year. But online sales will increase by 100 per cent next year," he said, adding that the company expected this channel to make up between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of total sales in the next five years.
Krisda said that Loft has 100,000 loyalty card holders, up from 70,000 last year. The company expected to increase the number of its members to 130,000 next year. Card members contribute 40 per cent of sales at Loft, with 25 per cent from tourists and 35 per cent from general customers. “Our members have average spending of Bt1,000 per bill, which is higher than the average spending of Bt700 made by ordinary shoppers,” he said. 
Krisda added that up to 70 per cent of Loft customers are general shoppers aged between 25 and 40, while 20 per cent are students, and 15 per cent are over 40.

Published : November 30, 2017

By :   KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN THE NATION

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