Thailand: King Power faces 50% sales drop

Duty-free retail giant King Power expects sales to plummet by 50% this year to about 90 billion baht, largely because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, the group’s chief executive, said that while the company has shifted to selling duty-free products online after all shops were closed from March 22 to May 16, online sales are not yet big enough to offset the huge drop.

Online sales contribute just 10% of the total now, though the company earlier hoped to raise the online contribution to 20%.

“Despite the huge sales drop, we don’t have any plans to lay off any of our 11,000 staff,” Mr Aiyawatt said. “Instead, we assigned them to sell King Power products via their own social media accounts and via King Power online.”

Only two King Power shops — at Rang Nam and Mahanakhon — as well as some branches at Suvarnabhumi airport have reopened. The company has a total of 11 branches nationwide.

Mr Aiyawatt said that thanks to the government’s effective control on Covid-19, Thailand is believed to be able to reopen faster than other countries.

In a related development, the company in collaboration with the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced the Thailand Smiles with You campaign to promote Thailand to the world through Leicester City FC, an English Premier League team.

According to Mr Aiyawatt, who is also Leicester City’s chairman, the campaign highlights “Thai smiles” by sending support from Thais to people around the world during this difficult time.

The campaign is meant to enhance Thailand’s image and help the country’s economic well-being once travel and tourism resumes.

He said the campaign was proposed by King Power Group to the prime minister in reply to his request to the private sector asking for support and collaboration to lessen the hardships faced by Thais.

“As Thais, we are proud to cooperate with the government in mitigating the adversity and supporting projects that will both directly and indirectly benefit our country’s economic and social well-being, hoping that it will lead us through this crisis safe and sound,” Mr Aiyawatt said, adding that Thailand remains one of the top destinations for travellers from around the world and has potential in every aspect, especially the remarkable Thainess that is inscribed in the famous “Thai smile”.

The campaign aims at sending care and moral support from Thais to the world amid the pandemic crisis through King Power’s Leicester City communication channels and platforms.

The Premier League has followers in 212 countries, comprising 643 households and 4.7 billion viewers.

This campaign marks an important collaboration between Thailand, the Thai people and Leicester City, as the world will see the phrase Thailand Smiles With You on Leicester City footballers’ jerseys for the first time and throughout the 2020-21 season.

Moreover, the campaign’s title will appear on signboards at King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, as well as on the club’s social media outlets, which are followed by more than 13 million worldwide subscribers.

The special short film Thailand Smiles With You starring Leicester City footballers will be broadcast within and outside the country. Some 10,000 limited-edition jerseys with the slogan will be available for sale in Thailand at 2,500 baht each.

“We hope that the campaign will leave a good impression and form a cherished memory of the Thai friendship in the mind of travellers around the world and above all, reiterate Thainess to the world,” Mr Aiyawatt said.