Central opens membership store of ‘affordable premium imports’ to beat price crisis
Central Retail aims to soften the cost-of-living crisis for Thailand’s middle class with Tops CLUB, a new membership-based store selling premium imported products at “affordable prices”.
Stephane Coum, Central Retail Food Group CEO, said Tops Club will be the first store of its kind in Southeast Asia when it opens on Wednesday (September 28).
Tops CLUB will be an exclusive source of premier brands from all over the world, with new additions weekly, he said.
The stores will sell five categories of products: dried groceries and beverages, fresh food and ingredients, alcohol, general goods including sports equipment and pet products, and household goods.
Of the 3,500-plus items on shelves, 75 per cent will be imported while the remainder – including chicken, eggs, and some local fruit – will be sourced from domestic producers.
Coum said Tops CLUB expects strong growth after positive feedback from pop-up stores in July. It said about 12,000 members have already registered with 10,000 more expected to follow this year.
Tops CLUB spans 15,000 square metres of warehouse-style space behind Central Rama II and is divided into three product zones.
“Customers can try products before purchasing them at over 40 sampling points,” general manager Jitlada na Chiangmai said.
She added that all prices at Tops CLUB were comparable or lower than the equivalent prices overseas. Thai and expat consumers have long complained about inflated prices of imported products in Thai supermarkets.
Jitlada said Tops CLUB target group is upper-middle-class families.