Cambodia: Thai retailers pursuing the Kingdom’s keen shoppers

Two giant Thai conglomerates, CP Group and Berli Jucker Plc (BJC), look set to continue their expansion into Cambodia’s retail sector.

CP Group is interested in opening its first Tesco Lotus supermarket in the Kingdom according to media reports, citing the Cambodian Business Council in Thailand. Tesco Lotus is “looking for at least three hectares of land in Phnom Penh”, according to the Construction & Property website, backed by the Cambodia Constructors Association.

This would not be CP Group’s first foray into the Cambodian retail sector. At the end of last month its local division, CP ALL (Cambodia), opened its first 7-Eleven convenience store in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar area. Eager shoppers queued through the evening in the rain to buy the store’s range of Thai-sourced products.

The opening had been delayed as the spread of the Delta strain of the Coronavirus depressed consumer spending. CP ALL originally planned to open its first 7-Eleven at the PTT petrol station, on National Road Number 5 in the Prek Pnov district of northern Phnom Penh. The empty PTT store is still listed on Google Maps, as is a third location, now just a sign at a petrol station south of the Chroy Changvar outlet.

CP Group faces competition from another of Thailand’s giant conglomerates, BJC. It opened its first Big C in the Cambodian capital earlier this month, the Mini Big C Depo Branch. More Big Cs could be on the way. The company plans to increase investment to expand its retail business in Cambodia over the next five years, according to the Bangkok Post.

“With our five-year plan, we aim to become the No.1 retailer in Cambodia in terms of value, size and perception among Cambodian customers,” Chief Operating Officer Gary Hardy told the Post, adding that the company will open hundreds of Big C stores in Phnom Penh and other big cities such as Siem Reap and Battambang. The stores would include hypermarkets, supermarkets and Mini Big Cs. BJC opened its first Big C hypermarket in the border town of Poipet a few years ago.

“There are 15 million [sic] people in Cambodia and Phnom Penh is a commercial centre with 2 million people,” Hardy said. “Given the similarities in tastes of Cambodians and Thais, there are opportunities to grow Big C products and brands such as Happy Price and Besico.”