TESCO joins Thai c-store brawl.

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Under the banner name ‘365’, Tesco is trialling its first smaller format convenience store in Bangkok, reports the Bangkok Post. The UK retail giant plans to take on market-leading c-store operator CP All’s 7-Eleven stores. According to Coconuts Bangkok, Ek-Chai Distribution System, which operates Tesco Lotus stores in Thailand, intends its new 365 stores to outnumber 7-Eleven within three years. Ek-Chai’s goal is to open more than 10,000 stores within three years.

365 stores will operate 24 hours and sell essential goods, beverages and ready-to-eat meals. This will differentiate them from Lotus Express stores, which act more like smaller-sized supermarkets and sell fresh ingredients.

Tesco Lotus Corporate Affairs Director Salinla Sihapan said that its first 365, located in a rented retail property in the Pratunam area, will be tested for six months. The location is surrounded by outlets operated by rivals FamilyMart and 7-Eleven. Five more 365s are scheduled to open in different locations within six months. The intention is to study consumer behaviour and amass feedback, reports Coconuts Bangkok. The next sites will be the Asoke area and Thonglor Skytrain station in the capital.

The planned expansion of the 365 banner is likely to further heat up competition in the convenience store sector in Thailand, in which CP All is the biggest player. Tesco’s c-store ambitions come at a time of intensifying competition and political turmoil in the country. FamilyMart operator Central Retail has plans for run 3,000 branches by 2017; LAWSON is eyeing 1,000 stores within five years from 2013, while Casino-owned Mini Big C has targeted 850 branches by 2016.

More info: http://www.planetretail.net

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