Central Retail Corp charts course for 2024 with expansion in Thailand, Vietnam, Italy


Central Retail Corporation (CRC), a big player in Thailand's retail sector and subsidiary of Central Group, unveiled its business strategy for 2024, which focuses on expansion across key markets like Thailand, Vietnam and Italy.

CEO Yol Phokasub outlined the company’s ambitious plans at the CEO Forum 2024 on Monday.

He said CRC intends to allocate 70% of its 22-billion to 24-billion-baht budget towards enhancing and expanding its retail infrastructure in Thailand. The remainder will be directed towards development projects in Vietnam and Italy, where CRC has already established a strong presence.

In line with its growth strategy, CRC aims to solidify its dominance across various segments by launching 40 mid- to large-format stores and renovating nearly 20 existing stores this year.

The company is also targeting revenue growth of 9-11% and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) growth of about 15-17%.


Operational plans

Yol also provided insights into CRC’s operational plans for each segment, namely fashion, food, hardware and property.

In the fashion area, CRC will turn its flagship store, Central Chidlom, into a luxury destination by adding world-class brands to the portfolio. It also plans to take Thai fashion brands to Vietnam.

Central Retail Corp charts course for 2024 with expansion in Thailand, Vietnam, Italy

In the food area, he pointed out that CRC will add seven new GO Wholesale branches and 10 Tops supermarkets across Thailand. In Vietnam, three additional GO! Hypermarkets and nine mini go! Supermarkets will be set up after both retail formats won a huge response last year.

As for its home improvement and hardware section, CRC intends to open nine new branches of Thaiwatsadu as well as renovate four others. It also aims to transform its Nguyen Kim outlet in Vietnam to deliver better results.

In the property sector, Yol said the group will continue developing and improving each Robinson Lifestyle branch, as well as open three more GO! Mall branches. The ultimate aim is to have 42 GO! Mall branches in as many provinces.

CRC has also expressed its commitment to strengthening its presence in Italy following a successful year of 1 billion euros worth of sales at Rinascente last year. The company aims to expand its product portfolio and reinforce its position in other regions of Italy.

“We prioritise each market equally, but our focus may differ depending on the high demand growth that each market has demonstrated. For example, there is a high demand for food in Thailand and Vietnam, while Italy sees a high demand for luxury products,” Yol said.


Central Retail Corp charts course for 2024 with expansion in Thailand, Vietnam, Italy

5-year vision

Looking ahead, CRC’s next five-year plan is centred around “CRC OMNI-intelligence”, aimed at harnessing technology, particularly artificial intelligence, to achieve omnichannel success.

“For 2024, Central Retail has set the strategy towards leading excellence and advancing sustainability to reiterate our position as #1 in all business groups with excellent performance in every dimension and a more advanced strategy for sustainability,” he said.

However, Yol acknowledged the challenges facing Thailand’s retail industry, including declining consumer purchasing power, high household debt and economic slowdown. Hence, he emphasised the importance of government stimulus measures and supported initiatives to protect local entrepreneurs.

CRC has also agreed with and is supporting a proposal from the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking to review the country’s tax schemes to combat the dumping of cheap goods and protect small businesses.

“We are an open market, but a small country. So we need strong protective measures to help our entrepreneurs, especially small and medium-sized businesses and make the market more equitable for all to compete in,” he said.

Central Retail Corporation stands as a leading multi-format, multi-category retailing platform in Thailand, with a growing international presence in Italy and Vietnam.

As of December 31, 2023, CRC had 3,687 outlets ranging from department and speciality stores to supermarkets, hypermarkets, wholesale stores and retail plazas.