2004 Oct Issue
Cover Story
Retail ranking marks beginning of new era in retailing in Asia-Pacific
Other Stories
Experiential Retailing shapes The Hour Glass
Retail Thailand'04 - getting bigger and better in serving up new business
More new business ideas at GLF2004
HECNA - member companies keen to take products to Asia


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Retail Thailand'04 – getting bigger and better in serving up new business

ACCOMPANYING the 12th International Food & Hospitality Show (IFHS) 2004 held from 8-11 September 2004 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC), Retail Thailand'04 fulfilled its theme of ‘serving up new business' with its visitor numbers increasing from 15,700 in 2003 to 17,965 from 45 countries this year.

Exhibitor numbers for both shows also increased from 370 companies last year to 450 from 30 countries.

“We are seeing more new local players as well as newly-established international companies in Thailand joining this year's show. There was also participation in new country pavilions from the UK, Germany and China,” said David Aitken, general manager of show organiser Bangkok Exhibition Services (BES).

He added that the strong presence of the 29-company contingent from Sichuan Province, China, was attributed to promotional efforts by BES in China, as well as BES' positive working relationship with the Chinese embassy in Bangkok.

Taylor Wu, general manager of Chengdu Foreign Economic & Trade Exhibition Co Ltd, said exporters of natural and processed agricultural products in his delegation hoped to take advantage of more trading opportunities generated by the free-trade agreement on agricultural products signed between the Chinese and Thai governments early this year.

“We are taking part in this show to help our companies understand the Thai market and increase the awareness of Thai buyers on our Chengdu products. We are also seeking companies at the show who had the right processing technology to help improve our product quality and supply-chain management,” said Wu.

A case in point is fruit grower Juhe International, which aimed to promote its honey peaches, pears, kiwifruits, plums and pomegranate to the Thai market.

“While we are already exporting to Singapore's supermarket NTUC FairPrice and thinking of increasing distribution channels in the republic, we are confident that the Retail Thailand show could serve as our gateway to more foreign markets,” said Yang Ling, vicegeneral manager of Juhe International.

With R&D investment in market opportunities and product development, and a global clientele that includes Wal- Mart, Metro AG and Carrefour, Chen Guiliang, manager of sweet potato manufacturer Chengdu Paili Food Co Ltd, was confident his company would attract some interest at the show. “We have received many queries from local Thai companies, including Siam Food Industries, who have expressed interest in our products,” he said.

Retail Thailand also promised to be a positive starter for first-time exhibitor Joon International from South Korea which sold out all of its healthy seaweed products at the show. Steely Yoon, director of the seasoned and dried laver manufacturer and exporter, said that six buyers, mainly from Thailand and Malaysia, had expressed keen interest to import its health-food products on the first day.

“With our products known in Japan, China and Hong Kong, we are confident they can sell well in Thailand,” said Yoon.

Anthony HR Walker, manager of international market development, Tate & Lyle, was equally pleased with the crowd at his booth who were seen sampling trickles of its Golden Syrup and making enquiries.

The UK-based sweetener company, which produces sugar, starch and citric acid, is exporting to China, Hong Kong and Singapore in Asia, but wants to tap into the Thai market for its liquid sugar products.

“We believe demand for our products, especially liquid sugar, could increase within three years in Thailand, because import duties for dry sugar are high in this country,” he said.

For Singapore-based snack manufacturer Tong Garden and Taiwanbased Wan Jia Shian Brewery, both already operating in Thailand, the show was also an avenue to generate product awareness.

While Tong Garden wanted to expand its product range beyond supermarkets, convenience stores, minimarts and its own Nutcandy kiosks located across Thailand to department stores and hotels, Wang Jia Shian Brewery is promoting its soya sauce as a healthier alternative to local soya sauces.

Thailand's own confectionery chocolates were also another highlight in the food section of the show.

Specialising in chocolates for cake decoration and retail gift packs, Gunthart Asia planned to increase its retail-distribution channels in Thailand beyond its own stores and Big C supermarkets after building its own brand.

“Just like last year's Retail Thailand/ IFHS show, we have received very good business and queries from many customers. In fact, we feel the Thai market for premium chocolate has picked up in the past three years and demand for it should increase especially during special festive seasons,” said Christian Kobelt, director of Gunthart Asia.

However, Jean-Louis Graindorge, managing director of Gallothai Company Limited, said it would take a while for local consumers to become less pricesensitive to quality chocolate products.

Catering its Thai-made chocolates using Belgian raw materials primarily for the gourmet and retail sectors, Gallothai had received international interest at the show, but plans to continue tapping into the local market, its target customers, even after the show.

After a successful debut presence at last year's show, US-based meat snack producer Jack Link's Beef Jerky, was back again this year with a new distribution office in Thailand, more varieties and price points ranging from 50-200 baht.

With its products now available at convenience and duty-free stores, namely King Power and Villa Market in the country, the company is zeroing on hotels, restaurants, entertainment centres, golf courses, country clubs and nightclubs.

Meanwhile, technology, mainly in the form of electronic cash registers (ECRs) and point-of-sale (POS) solutions, continued to be a value-added highlight at the Retail Thailand show ground.

“While the majority of retail technology products at the show are foreign- owned, we are seeing more local companies buying them,” said Aitken.

Central Trading Co Ltd and Sharp Trebuckom Ltd, distributors for Casio and Sharp POS solution products, had found their target customers at the show — from franchises as well as small and medium-scale businesses, which are a big market in Thailand.

R-Tech has also received overwhelming leads for sales opportunities, possibly generated by its over 45% market share (excluding POS systems) for ECRs in Thailand, and its annual sale of 1,000 ECRs.

“After this show, we are considering assembling the parts of our ECR systems in Thailand to bring down capital costs, and sell them at affordable prices to countries like Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos,” said Choochai Suktinthai, sales manager, R-Tech.

Benedict Chua, sales director-Asia (distributor channel), Singapore Representative Office, Checkpoint Systems Inc, was also at the show to promote the company's integrated security solutions and RFID (radio-frequency identification) source-tagging systems to a wider spectrum of businesses covering the vertical markets.

“Although it would take a while for demand in anti-theft systems to catch on in Thailand's growing retail market, manufacturers in Thailand are already tagging their products with RFID tags before shipping them to other European and US customers,” he said.

At the booth of Card System and Marketing Co Ltd, programmer Singha Dechapakorn was demonstrating the company's latest mobile PDA that could help retail businesses check inventory levels and place orders.

“A local minimart business owner had placed a 50,000-baht order for this product at the show,” he said. The company had also received many enquiries for its other models of data-collection equipment, high-tech POS systems and ID smart-card printers, which cater to different customers like food courts, retail and restaurants.

With space bookings for the next show already doubled, this good news could well be the harbinger for a bigger and better show next year set for September 15-17.

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