Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ROBINSON shifts focus to suburban stores

Robinson Department Store Plc's Rarm Intra outlet has become a new strategic centre for the company's Bangkok operations due to the area's growing number of upscale housing developments, a senior executive says.

Customer purchasing power in the Rarm Intra area has increased dramatically when compared to shopping behaviour in downtown Bangkok, said vice-president for marketing Sirinij Chokchairittikul.

Average spending per bill at Robinson Rarm Intra, which is located at Fashion Island, increased to about 2,500 baht from almost 1,000 five years ago.

Best-selling products were high-priced items such as watches, high-tech gadgets and fashion and lifestyle products, she said.

A company study found that half of Rarm Intra households earned between 50,000 and 60,000 baht per month. They also liked to shop locally.

"In my opinion, department stores in Bangkok's outskirts and upcountry areas got a modest impact from the economic downturn and political unrest when compared to downtown stores," said Ms Sirinij.

Due to better-than-expected performance of Robinson's Rarm Intra and Rangsit branches, the firm will increase the marketing budget for the two stores and develop specific strategies for each outlet's customers.

"We see tougher competition in Bangkok and what we want to do is to focus more on suburban stores and those locating upcountry. These stores have less competition and the business potential is tremendous," she said.

Yesterday, the company launched its 10-million-baht "Beauty World @ Robinson Fashion Island" which runs from Oct 22 to Nov 2. The event features about 50 cosmetic brands, more than 20 of which are high-end brands.

Prasert Sriuranpong, executive director of Siam Retail Development Co, which operates Fashion Island shopping complex, said the recession has only had a small impact on the mall's business.

"Despite economic and political difficulties, we have seen the number of shoppers grow 8.5% year-on-year so far this year," he said.

Mr Prasert said Rarm Intra was a prime residential area with high-end housing projects where units can range from 5 million to 30 million baht.

Cosmetics was one of the product categories least affected by the recession. Cosmetics sales at Robinson increased by 5% in the first nine months and are expected the rise by 7% to 8% for the whole year. The category contributes 15% to Robinson's overall sales.

Shares of Robinson closed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 10 baht, down 40 satang, in trade worth 12.98 million baht.

Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter

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