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Topic Summary

Posted by: thaiga
« on: March 27, 2018, 02:23:34 PM »

All eyes on Big C pickups

Self-employed operators fear Big C mobile grocery stores may cut into their revenue.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong says authorities have been monitoring Big C's mobile grocery stores and the government looks set to exercise two laws to ensure fair trade.

"The ministry has already made inquiries after Big C Supercenter Plc began operating mobile grocery stores in pickups to sell consumer goods in villages. While the company said the mobile grocery store is just a pilot project for a new business concept and is yet to be truly commercialised, the department is monitoring this issue as it oversees retail business to ensure trade is fair both to small- and large-scale operators under the Act on Prices of Goods and Services (1999) and the Trade Competition Act (2017)," he said.

Mr Sontirat said if Big C is committed to launching its mobile grocery unit, related authorities will determine whether it is legal.

"Small grocery stores should rest assured they are not alone in fighting the entry of big retailers, as the ministry is ready to give them a helping hand if any harm occurs," he said.

Mr Sontirat said the ministry has introduced a number of programmes over the years to upgrade the competitiveness of small grocery shops, notably through the Thong Fah Pracha Rat low-cost outlets for low-income earners who hold state-subsidised smart cards.

The ministry aims to raise the number of Thong Fah Pracha Rat outlets to 40,000 by year-end and hopes the low-cost shops will become a vital sales space for locally-made products, One Tambon One Product goods and farm products in remote areas.

More than 20,000 shops registered with the Commerce Ministry as Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops in the first phase, which started on Oct 1 last year. The scheme is now in the second phase.

The Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops are part of a 41.9-billion-baht aid package approved by the cabinet last August, aimed at 11.7 million low-income earners -- 5 million of whom live below the poverty line.

The cabinet in January approved 35.7 billion baht for the second phase of the welfare scheme.

Big C Supercenter created the Mini Big C grocery mobile store for communities where it cannot open outlets or there are no competing stores. The mobile stores provide a range of goods, including ready-to-eat meals and instant noodles.

Mini Big C mobile stores first appeared last November at a charity event to raise funds for hospitals conducted by Athiwara "Toon" Kongmalai, a member of the popular rock band Bodyslam.

This Mini Big C mobile store provided free food, drinks, pharmaceuticals and other products at that event.

Last month, Mini Big C mobile store provided its services in Pathum Thani province to test the market response.

Customers can pay any bill at this mobile store, starting from only five baht and also collect Big Card points.

In addition to the Mini Big C mobile store, the company will expand its business this year on the back of improved consumer spending power and higher tourist numbers.

A retail business source said the competition will heat up this year as players start providing omni-channel services after heavily investing in IT systems to respond to changing consumer lifestyles.

"Starting from this year, consumers will be able to conveniently shop anywhere, anytime via all different channels," said the source.