Department stores dominates the value sales of mixed retailers, whereas variety stores dominates in terms of outlet numbers. Department stores in Thailand is very competitive, with clusters of many key brands and individual brands. New department stores continue to open in non-urban areas where there is no store presence. To differentiate from the existing players, new department stores seek to introduce their own concepts, product varieties and meet sophisticated demand. Bringing in new brands of apparel and footwear, cosmetics, electronics and appliances are crucial factors to attract traffic and create sales. Unique trendy products and a wide product variety inspire consumers.
Central Group remained the powerful leader in mixed retailers in 2016. The company has the concept of keeping various brands of department stores within its portfolio; for instance Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store and Zen, as well as managing Marks & Spencer and MUJI. Its various brands are targeted towards different segments. Central Department Store is positioned in the middle- to high-end of the market, whereas Robinson Department Store captures lower- to middle-income consumers. Central Department Store Eastville has adapted its strategy to be a family destination by allocating over THB40 million to create Famplayland and Play Square. The concept of Famplayland and Play Square is to offer entertainment and an amusement park for the whole family to enjoy besides normal shopping in department stores.
The future direction of mixed retailers is expansion in the number of outlets, but this is expected to take place at a slower pace. The Mall Group recently announced it would be focusing on increasing its sales and improving the shopping environment in its stores rather than on expanding its outlets. However, Central Group will continue to open new department stores, but the pace of growth is likely to be slower compared with the review period. In terms of the medium to long term direction, it remains to be seen if the government policy on expanding the high-speed train project to the provinces is achieved. High-speed trains should bring new prospects not just to manufacturers, but should also provide benefits to retail, property and travel, and finally generate higher employment and create more purchasing power for Thai consumers.
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