Thailand’s Central Food Retail is to launch a new warehouse-style grocery concept similar to the Costco and Sam’s Club models made popular in the US and now expanding globally.
The Central Retail subsidiary company will call the new chain Tops Club and the first store will open late next month on Rama II in the capital city of Bangkok.
The new chain is part of a broader commitment to expand its store network in Thailand and Vietnam to 1700 locations as it invests US$500 million over the next five years in a bid to become the “number one food retailer” in both markets.
Tops Club will operate under a membership model and will feature more than 3500 products, 70 per cent of them imported and “exclusive brands” including Costco’s Kirkland Signature, Mainstays, and Member’s Mark from the US; DJ&A, Smith’s (snack foods) from Australia, and Killinchy Gold (ice cream) from New Zealand.
By comparison, a typical Costco store in the US has around 4000 SKUs, while a mainstream Tops supermarket carries up to 45,000. Besides the membership model – which is where Costco generates most of its revenue as opposed to margins that are standard across most categories – such grocery ‘clubs’ specialise in large serves and bulk packs to deliver consumers and business customers alike cost savings.
Central Food says Tops Club’s product categories will include fresh foods, dry groceries, snack foods, home essentials, toys, camping and outdoor goods, and sports equipment.
“Only the best brands are selected to meet the needs of consumers with high purchasing power who seek quality,” the company said in a statement.
Ahead of the opening Central is offering annual memberships at 799 THB ($22.15), a discount of 20 per cent off the standard fee of 999 THB ($27.70). Members will be able to order goods online as well.
Stephane Coum, CEO at Central’s Food Group, said the company was focusing on providing a range of Tops destinations to “fulfil every shopping need and cater to changing consumer lifestyles”. Those formats range from FamilyMart convenience stores to supermarkets, food halls and now the new Tops Club.