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Central Group Thailand to invest US$1.1bn

Central Group Thailand, the country’s largest retail conglomerate, plans to invest some 39 billion baht (US$1.1 billion) in new supermarkets, stores and hotels this year to boost turnover.

Central is the largest mall operator in Thailand by network number and also owns department stores anchoring most of its centres. Internationally, the company owns upmarket department stores including the Illum in Denmark, La Rinascente in Italy and KaDeWe in Germany and more low key stores in Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia. It owns stakes in a number of retail businesses in the region.

CEO Tos Chirathivat told a media briefing in Bangkok this week the company plans to invest in more retail businesses in Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos as those economies start to grow. It also plans a hotel development in the Maldives.

In Thailand, Central Group plans to open about 420 new retail stores, including expanding its FamilyMart convenience store network, and Tops supermarkets chain.

Last year, Central Group Thailand posted a 13.5 per cent growth in sales, despite a lacklustre retail climate at home. This year Chirathivat is projecting an 18.9 per cent lift, driven mostly by its European operations, to about 337 billion baht ($9.5 billion).

“Strong growth for this year will mainly come from our department stores in Europe. The overall Thai economy will be impacted from global volatility and domestic demand is still stable,” he said.

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