Country considered a viable market with less competition than elsewhere.
According to Japan’s Nikkei newspaper on March 5, with shopping malls crowding Bangkok, Thailand’s Robinson Department Store chain is looking for expansion opportunities in cities and provinces in Vietnam, where it opened two stores last year in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
After merging with the larger Central Group in 1995, the medium-size department store and shopping mall operator has operated relatively autonomously and plans four openings this year, all outside Bangkok, with two in border areas.
Robinson currently operates 39 department stores and shopping malls in Thailand: 11 in Bangkok and 28 in provincial areas. It targets having 60 stores by 2020.
According to Robinson President Alan Thomson, Vietnam is a market with potential growth and competition is not as strong as in other Asian markets such as Indonesia. It therefore plans to open more stores and possibly some malls in the country’s two major centers, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Mr. Thomson believes Vietnam has the potential to outstrip the Thai market due to its larger population. The store in Ho Chi Minh City is already showing promising results, he said.
Robinson’s net profit was $59 million in 2014, down 2.9 per cent against 2013 as a consequence of Thailand’s political unrest and economic downturn. The company expects a brighter 2015, investing $101.4 million and targeting an increase of 15 per cent in sales.