BANGKOK Oct 12 Thailand's biggest retailer
Central Group expects revenue to rise 21 percent to 320 billion
baht ($9.17 billion) in 2016, due to strong growth from overseas
business and tourist spending, its chief executive said on
Central, controlled by Thailand's third-richest family, the
Chirathivats, is looking for opportunities to buy assets
overseas as the group wants to focus more on Southeast Asian
neighbors, CEO Tos Chirathivat told a news conference.
The Thai conglomerate is keen to expand its retail business
in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and expects revenue from
foreign operations to account for 40 percent of total in next
five years from 30 percent now, Tos said.
He gave no details about the M&A target.
In April, Central bought superstore chain Big C's Vietnam
business from French retailer Casino, giving the Thai
group access to Big C's 43 stores in Vietnam and 30 malls.
Vietnam is Southeast Asia's fastest growing market for
Central, and the company expects sales to reach 37 billion baht
this year, he said.
Central has benefited from rising number of foreign visitors
in Thailand, with sales at its stores to tourists up 15 percent
this year, versus 5 percent for Thai customers, Tos said.
The group, which has interests including shopping mall
developer, Central Pattana Pcl, Robinson Department
Store Pcl and Central Hotel Plaza Pcl,
plans to spend more on its online retail business, which
currently accounts for just 1 percent of revenue, Tos said.
Central bought fashion-focused e-commerce site Zalora in
April as part of a push to win back shoppers who increasingly
prefer internet shopping.
($1 = 34.8800 baht)
(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and Manunphattr Dhanananphorn,
editing by Louise Heavens)