By WATCHIRANONT THONGTEP
“We saw a small improvement in the market in terms of local consumption. But we are optimistic that the Thai market is still promising, as it is the second-largest unit outside the UK,” John Christie, chief executive officer, said yesterday.
The company will also work on enhancing the customer shopping experience at existing stores and improving online outlets.
He declined to disclose the capital expenditure budget for this year’s expansion but said the number of new branches would be more than the 65 opened last year.
“Due to the location limit, I would say that the small type would be suitable for the Bangkok area while large ones would be deployed upcountry.
“Importantly, we are looking for an opportunity in medium-size provinces where we have not been yet,” he said.
With this expansion, the company aims to create at least 3,000 jobs.
It has prepared a budget for renovating 18 stores to enhance the shopping experience, particularly for children and family groups, and to boost customer traffic.
Under the plan, the company hopes to welcome more visitors than last year’s 15 million, which was up from 13 million the year before.
To cash in on the change in customers’ digital lifestyles and behaviour, the retail giant is also putting more weight on online distribution.
Some of this year’s capex budget will be used to continue developing its online shopping platform with its partners.
“We are now offering more than 8,000 non-food products via Lazada.com. They include electronic devices, beauty and healthcare products,” he said.
To support the country at large, the company is planning to launch 22 Pracha Rath projects across the country in cooperation with government agencies and local communities to purchase more farm products.
The company aims to purchase at least 150,000 tonnes this year, up from 100,000 tonnes last year.