Central gives up on China

Thai retail giant Central Group plans withdrawing from China amid a tougher business environment.

The company had already closed its Zen department store in Shenyang last year and now plans phasing out the Central department stores in Hangzhou, Shenyang and Chengdu.

The company will shift its focus to growing its businesses in Asean countries and Europe.

It is bullish about its potential in Europe, where it operates the acquired department store brands La Rinascente in Italy and Illum in Denmark.

La Rinascente retail expansion manager Sean Hill says they’re looking to expand in four European big cities, which are attractive to tourists.

Central says it is negotiating for around 10 new acquisitions and mergers to expand its overseas businesses.

“Two or three deals will be finalised this year,” says Prin Chirathivat, CFO of Central Group.

To take advantage of the upcoming Asean Economic Community, Central plans to accelerate expansion in neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Vietnam. Recently, it opened its first department store in Vietnam, branded as Robins, in Hanoi.

“It is the time for Central Group to grow its retail business outside Thailand, such as in Vietnam, Indonesia and Europe. We have already enjoyed matured growth within the country,” said Suthichart Chirathivat, executive vice chairman of Central Group.


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