Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tesco Lotus hastens expansion in Thailand

A Tesco Clubcard and a Clubcard keyfob.Image via Wikipedia

Tesco Lotus, the UK hypermarket chain, will pour slightly more money into its expansion in the Thai market next year beyond the normal average investment of approximately 7 billion baht per year.

Hammett: Loyalty card ‘the best’

Steve Hammett, CEO of the local Tesco Lotus operator Ek-Chai Distribution System Co, said the company had had robust investment in Thailand for several years. At least six hypermarket outlets, more than 10 Talad Lotus stores and some Lotus Express outlets will be opened this year, bringing its total to about 600 outlets in all formats.

It is expected that the number of new outlets to be added next year will be a bit more than in 2009.

Tesco is present in 13 countries and the United States, India and China are the next big targets for the company's business expansion.

Ek-Chai Distribution System has tried to persuade Tesco to increase its investment in Thailand every year since inception.

"I don't see an economic recovery yet but it can't get any worse," said Mr Hammett.

The company will launch its Clubcard reward programme tomorrow. It tested the market with pilot programmes in Hat Yai and Ko Samui stores over the past few years and received good customer response.

Thailand is the seventh country in the world and the second in Southeast Asia where the Clubcard will be available. The company anticipates 4 million members in the first year. Shoppers earn Clubcard points that are converted into cash coupons four times a year.

Several retail operators such as Central Department Store, Tops Supermarket, Carrefour, Future Park Rangsit, M Card and recently The Mall Group also offer loyalty cards.

"It is more important to be the best, not the first," said Mr Hammett. "Compared to other competitors, nobody has a scheme like us: it is free to join, we offer cash coupons, there is no minimum requirement and you can redeem at all 62 stores nationwide."

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