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Thailand’s Central looks abroad

Thai retail group Central is to increase its overseas portfolio through acquisitions.

The shopping centre developer and retailer says it will make an annual investment of 10 billion baht ($321.4 million) to acquire businesses, mainly in Asean and European markets.

In 2011, Central acquired Italy’s oldest retailer La Rinascente, which also acquired Danish department store Illum in March. La Rinascente plans opening in Indonesia, Vietnam and China.

“Not only did the deal put us in the limelight, the brand has also strengthened our business portfolio. Only three months after we bought La Rinascente, we received numerous offers from many leading retailers from places such as France, Switzerland and Germany,” said executive chairman Sudhitham Chirathivat.

But he said that running businesses overseas is not easy because of cultural differences.

“It’s hard to fully understand consumers’ demand in another country. Asean is a relatively easy target for us because of similar cultures and climate,” says Chirathivat.

When it comes to size of ownership, Central says it plans to acquire 100 per cent of the business interest, to a minimum of 30 per cent as long as it can participate in the management.

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