Thailand’s Central Group invests in European expansion
Thailand’s Central Group has made three major overseas investments totaling US$662.7 million to build its presence in world-leading tourist destinations.
The new investment properties are located in Vienna, Osaka and Turin.
“Central Group continues to embark on our strategy to ride on the global tourism trend by developing high-quality flagship projects in major tourist cities,” said Central Group executive chairman and CEO Tos Chirathivat. “Our most recent investment of over 20 billion baht comprises three landmark projects: an iconic innovative luxury retail and hotel complex in Vienna; Centara’s first Centara Grand Hotel Osaka in Japan; and the relaunch of a completely refurbished Rinascente Department Store in Turin, Italy.”
The 58,000sqm development in Vienna comprises a luxury department store, a luxury hotel with 150-165 keys, retail shops and upscale restaurants with a publicly accessible roof park.
Design group OMA won an international design competition with its design concept “The Link”, which seamlessly connects the new building complex with the city surroundings via a series of public and commercial spaces. The project is a joint venture between Central and Austria’s Signa Group, and is due to open in 2023.
Centara Grand Hotel Osaka is the first Centara-branded property in Japan, which will occupy a prime site in Osaka’s Namba district, the centre of leisure tourism for the city and the wider Kansai region.
The property will be built as a flagship five-star hotel located at the city centre, with 515 rooms occupying a new 34-storey tower overlooking Namba Parks. The top floors will include a lounge along with customisable space for meetings and events, plus a rooftop restaurant sky bar providing panoramic 360-degree views of Osaka.
Centara Grand Hotel Osaka is a partnership between Centara Hotels & Resorts, Taisei Corporation and Kanden Realty & Development, and is scheduled to open in 2023.
Thailand’s Central Group bought Rinascente Turin in 2017 and is now refurbishing and upgrading the store, nearly doubling the net selling space. A highlight of the renovation is the new accessories area featuring new collections by luxury brands such as Bottega Venetta, Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Marni.
Central’s international investment and growth can be partly attributed to the strong Thai baht, which has appreciated substantially against most major currencies over the last few years. Last year, Central Group’s international operations – primarily in Vietnam, Europe and the Maldives – contributed around 30 per cent of the group’s revenue. This share is expected to grow in the next five years with the new projects in the pipeline.
“Thailand has a huge opportunity to drive domestic spending and tourism growth by lowering import duties and optimising the foreign exchange rate,” said Tos. “Today, Thai import duties on major lifestyle categories are the highest in Asia, putting the country at a disadvantage as a shopping destination. If Thai baht depreciates and import duties are lowered, it will be more attractive for tourists to visit and shop here, and there will be less incentive for Thais to shop overseas.
“Given the significant contribution to the country’s employment and GDP, a vibrant and thriving tourism and retail sector is key to driving Thailand’s healthy and sustainable economic growth overall,” he said.