Twinings enters Myanmar

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Stephen Twining attends the official launch of Twinings tea in Myanmar./Khine Kyaw

Stephen Twining attends the official launch of Twinings tea in Myanmar./Khine Kyaw

MYANMAR has become the 116th market for Twinings, one of the world’s best-selling premium tea brands.

Stephen Twining, a member of the 10th generation of the family that has churned out the premium tea for 310 years, was at the official launch in Myanmar on August 5. He said Myanmar offered a opportunity for high growth, with a large tea-drinking population.

“Tea is well-loved in Myanmar, so it makes absolute sense for Twinings to be here. I am delighted to experience Myanmar’s unique culture and our shared passion for tea,” he said.

“Twinings never accepts anything less than perfect. Today, Twinings tea is enjoyed by millions in 116 countries worldwide, including Myanmar.”

Five labels will be available in the market – Earl Grey, English breakfast, jasmine green tea, pure camomile and pure peppermint.

Market research was conducted before the official launch and the company decided to award the distribution rights to AB Food |& Beverages and Premium Distribution. The products are now available in supermarkets and gourmet stores in major cities and destinations including Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Bagan, Taunggyi, Inle, Ngapali and Mawlamyaing – major destinations for both local and foreign tourists.

Twining believes that the demand for high-quality tea will rise as the country opens up.

“We certainly see good prospects here in Myanmar. We will be targeting top hotels. I know Myanmar received nearly 5 million tourists last year. That is also expected to grow a great deal in the coming years. And we will also be looking to partner with supermarkets,” he said.

Twining said the company would focus on maintaining quality rather than thinking about competition. He believes in taking early-bird advantages.

“I think we are the first premium fine-quality tea company here. And we will continue to actively promote ourselves. We are working with our retail partners to reach everywhere” in Myanmar, he said.

Twinings will open a tea parlour in Myanmar in the years to come, as it did in Bangkok.

Coffee World looks to double Thai branches in three years

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COFFEE WORLD aims to double its branches at home and increase its presence in China, Bangladesh and Laos within three years with Bt250 million in investment.

“We expect the number of our |coffeehouses to reach 200 in the Kingdom by 2020,” Darren White, managing director of GFA Corporation (Thailand), the operator and franchiser of Coffee World, said yesterday.

After opening five shops in the first quarter, the company will continue to spend Bt50 million for 15 new branches in the country in the remaining months. They will be two Coffee Worlds in Phuket and four in Malaysia.

The company operates 100 Coffee Worlds in Thailand, of which 65 per cent are company-owned and 35 per cent franchised.

In three years, the chain is expected to exceed 200 units.

For the international market, the coffee empire wants to double branches in some high-potential countries.

For example, Laos will get three outlets, up from one now, Bangladesh eight from four and China 10 from five.

In seeking more revenue, the company plans to introduce food trucks to provide catering services including snacks and beverages at particular areas such as schools and office buildings.

“Set to launch in September, this new service could also respond to corporate clients wanting to organise parties, personal functions and product launches,” White said.

The company aims to grow its sales by 10 per cent to Bt400 million this year.

“The company’s projected growth appears to be behind the growth of the coffee-restaurant business because of the intense competition from new rivals.

“The key strategy is building brands and customer experience,” he said.

The Bt10-billion coffee-restaurant business is expected to expand by |20-25 per cent per year.

Central looking to expand Auntie Anne’s outlets in region

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CENTRAL RESTAURANTS Group, the local franchisee of the Auntie Anne’s pretzel chain, is negotiating with US-based Focus Brands International for the right to expand the soft-pretzel shops to emerging markets in the region, especially Vietnam.

The company is conducting a feasibility study on priority expansion markets, which also covers logistics, consumer insights and local regulations.

The recent acquisition of Big C hypermarkets in Vietnam by Central Group will allow other branded business units of the group, including Auntie Anne’s, to be expanded along with Big C’s network in that country.

Nongnapas Rumphoei , assistant vice president of Auntie Anne’s, said yesterday that the company planned to increase its shops in Thailand from 134 currently to 200 in five years.

Investment will be between Bt3 million and Bt5 million per store depending on the size, which will range from 35 to more than 40 square metres.

“We want to more than double our annual revenue from more than Bt800 million targeted for this year to about Bt2 billion in five years,” she said.

The company targets 20-per-cent growth for its Auntie Anne’s business and 149 shops in total this year.

For next year, sales are expected reach Bt1 billion and outlets to 159-169.

“Under the negotiation with our franchiser, it would like us to open Auntie Anne’s in countries without such soft-pretzel shops, such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

“It has seen our great potential to expand the business in the AEC based on our local success in Thailand,” she said.

Auntie Anne’s Thailand is the franchisee with the fastest expansion record in Asean.

“We took only 19 years to open 134 Auntie Anne’s shops in the Thai market,” she said.

Auntie Anne’s can be found in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

Auntie Anne’s has been in the Philippines for more than 20 years, but has only 40 stores in the country.

Indonesia also has only four after the first outlet opened in 1995.

“In Vietnam, consumers know the Auntie Anne’s brand. In Laos, people come to Udon Thani and buy pretzels from our Auntie Anne’s shop.

“They become loyal customers of our brand,” he Nongnapas said.

The company sends food trucks to big fairs and events, as well as night markets.

The launch of the mobile channel fits the demand and lifestyles of today’s young consumers, who want convenience and accessibility.

“We have also refreshed the Auntie Anne’s brand in Thailand to be more modern and trendy. The refreshment is based on our consumer-insights survey, showing that Thai consumers demand continuous improvement in three strategic areas, which are product innovation, service, and store ambience.”

The bakery market was worth about Bt8 billion last year and is growing at about 9 per cent per year. Auntie Anne’s ranks third in that market, but controls almost 100 per cent of the pretzel segment.

Tesco Lotus to further grow with at least 65 new stores this year

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John Christie, CEO of Tesco Lotus reiterates the reatiler’s commitment to continue to invest in 2016 to better serve customers in Thailand and keep prices permanently low through the challenging economy. The investment plan will see new store openings, st

John Christie, CEO of Tesco Lotus reiterates the reatiler’s commitment to continue to invest in 2016 to better serve customers in Thailand and keep prices permanently low through the challenging economy. The investment plan will see new store openings, st

DESPITE SLUGGISH consumption, Tesco Lotus, the country’s leading retail chain, will keep expanding by adding at least 65 stores this year.

“We saw a small improvement in the market in terms of local consumption. But we are optimistic that the Thai market is still promising, as it is the second-largest unit outside the UK,” John Christie, chief executive officer, said yesterday.

The company will also work on enhancing the customer shopping experience at existing stores and improving online outlets.

He declined to disclose the capital expenditure budget for this year’s expansion but said the number of new branches would be more than the 65 opened last year.

“Due to the location limit, I would say that the small type would be suitable for the Bangkok area while large ones would be deployed upcountry.

“Importantly, we are looking for an opportunity in medium-size provinces where we have not been yet,” he said.

With this expansion, the company aims to create at least 3,000 jobs.

It has prepared a budget for renovating 18 stores to enhance the shopping experience, particularly for children and family groups, and to boost customer traffic.

Under the plan, the company hopes to welcome more visitors than last year’s 15 million, which was up from 13 million the year before.

To cash in on the change in customers’ digital lifestyles and behaviour, the retail giant is also putting more weight on online distribution.

Some of this year’s capex budget will be used to continue developing its online shopping platform with its partners.

“We are now offering more than 8,000 non-food products via They include electronic devices, beauty and healthcare products,” he said.

To support the country at large, the company is planning to launch 22 Pracha Rath projects across the country in cooperation with government agencies and local communities to purchase more farm products.

The company aims to purchase at least 150,000 tonnes this year, up from 100,000 tonnes last year.

Minor to expand globally in five years

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TO SERVE Thai cuisine to global consumers, Minor Food Group has set a five-year plan to have at least 200 branches of Thai Express restaurants and other franchises both at home and overseas in line with its commitment to create more professional Thai chefs at its MSC Thai Culinary School.

“Minor Food Group wants |further success on top of creat-|ing skilled chefs to meet dramatically increased demand both at home and overseas. In line with |that, the expansion of Thai |Express restaurants is among |our priorities,” Arth Prakhun-hungsit, chief operating officer for local franchises and Thai food concepts at the Minor Food Group, said yesterday.

Under this five-year strategy, Minor Food Group will put |more focus on expansion of |Thai Express restaurants and other franchises such as Grab Thai, Patara and Suda. The company expects to have between 70 and 80 branches of Thai Express restaurants in China.

In Britain, the company wants to have about 20 branches, which would be run under either its own brand Grab Thai – a quick service format – or its joint venture between Minor International and S&P Syndicate. This JV, Patara Fine Thai Cuisine, will develop and run new outlets of Patara and Suda restaurants in London in parallel with four existing Patara and one existing Suda currently owned and operated by S&P Restaurants.

Thai Express also plans to add more branches in existing markets. To date, there are 51 Thai Express branches: 25 in Singapore, 15 in Vietnam, four in Thailand, three each in Malaysia and China, and one in Maldives.

“There is plenty of opportunity for Thai cuisine in global markets. Thai food can be served to meet |various demands, ranging from quick service to fine dining. Importantly, key ingredients in Thai food are well recognised as delicious and heathy,” said Patamawalai Ratanapol, chief operating officer at the Minor Food Group and chief people officer at Minor International.

“In Asia, Thai food is ranked among the favourite Asian dishes along with Chinese and Japanese.”

To bring Thai cuisine to a global scale, training professional chefs |is a key. Under a partnership with S&P, Minor International now operates the MSC Thai Cuisine institute, which comprises MSC Thai Culinary School and the consulting unit MSC Thai Cuisine Academy.

Although there were only 12 graduates in the first batches after a one-year training programme at MSC Thai Culinary, the school’s managing director Chumpol Jangprai said on Monday that all of them had either been hired by leading restaurants and hotels or opted to run their own restaurants.

“Both the local and the international market still need well-trained chefs with full skill sets of cooking, entrepreneurship and management. Skilled chefs or head chefs can earn more than Bt150,000 a month,” Chumpol said.

He hopes that MSC Thai Culinary School will be able create at least 200 professional chefs in the near future to support the expansion of both Minor itself and the Thai-cuisine industry.

Synnex eyes Indochina push

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Synnex (Thailand), an information technology (IT) distributor, aims to expand further in Indochina and expects to generate revenue of Bt23 billion this year

Chief executive officer Sutida Mongkolsuthree said the company this year was focusing on domestic and international markets as well as the business-to-business online market.

She said Synnex would also enter the gaming market as she believed it had high growth potential.

She said the company had cooperated with a local partner to set up a branch in Myanmar in 2014, and was looking for a local partner in Cambodia so it could open a branch there this year.

Sutida said the company helped create brand awareness via Trusted by Synnex, which satisfied customers’ needs, and through the nationwide mascot marketing activity Synnex Carnival with Mr Synnex & The Gang.

She believes the measures will expand the company’s business base and revenue.

She said Synnex had around 5,000 dealers, as well as 11 service centres and 63 Synnex service partners, a figure expected to rise to 65 by the end of this year.

Sutida said the Bt23 billion in revenue forecast for this year would be a rise of 8 per cent from 2015.

Thirty per cent of the company’s revenue this year is expected to come from commercial operations and 70 per cent from the consumer market.

The commercial market includes network and server products and smartphones.

“I think that the Indochina market is an opportunity and has high potential for growth,” she said.

“We started entering Indochina in Myanmar a couple. Myanmar is a major, high-potential growth market. Cambodia also has high potential as a new market.”