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Doraemon concept set for SE Asian rollout

A Thai company with rights to Japanese cartoon characters is planning to roll out a world first retail and dining concept featuring Doraemon.

Animation International (Thailand) a rights management company, says it will open stores selling Doraemon merchandise and cafes in Thailand next year.

There are already plans to open the stores beyond Thailand, AI deputy MD Thawat Imrapron told the Bangkok Post newspaper in an interview.

“We are studying related laws before expanding the merchandising business for Doraemon into Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in the future,” he said.

Four stores and cafes will be opened in Thailand’s capital city Bangkok and major provinces initially. Besides selling merchandise and themed food, the stores will serve to boost awareness of the Doraemon character.

“Thailand was chosen to be the first country to have a Doraemon shop and cafe because it is a very important market and the world’s second biggest merchandising business for Doraemon after China,” Hiroshi Kondo, an executive of AI, told the Bangkok Post.

The precise locations of the first stores have yet to be revealed, but Thawat did reveal THB 120 million (US$3.4 million) has been set aside for development costs.

Japan-based master rights holder Animation International has signed off on the concept and will invest in marketing for the character to assist building brand awareness.

Thawat said the store and cafe concepts would range between 300 sqm and 400 sqm, suggesting it is suited to shopping mall locations.

AI Thailand was set up in 1996 as a joint venture between JSL and AI Hong Kong to locally manage the rights of Japanese cartoon characters, including Panda Z, Line friends and Crayon Shinchan.

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