SHANGHAI: Chia Tai Group of Companies is now focusing on expanding its food business, especially ready-to-eat and fast-food meals, in China over the next three to five years.
Thanakorn Seriburi, Vice Chairman of Chia Tai Group – as Thailand’s CP Group is widely known in China – said the Chinese food business had a lot of potential given the country’s 1.3-billion population. We’re looking for the right business model for the food business in China. All foods will be under the CP brand and we are now testing the market with our fast-food and restaurant brands,” he said.
Chia Tai Group is introducing its CP food brand at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, which runs for six months until the end of October. The Chia Tai Group has already opened four Tai Tai restaurants in China three in Beijing and one in Shanghai. At the World Expo, the group is now offering various menus such as grilled chicken, roast duck, shrimp wonton soup and chicken green curry. Major ingredients are based on its farm and meat products, mostly produced in China except seafoods, which are imported from Thailand.
The group has a lot of production facilities for chicken meat, pork, duck and sausages across the mainland. “I think we can conclude the food brand that suits the taste of Chinese people and introduce it before the end of this year,” Mr Thanakorn said.
In China, he noted that the group’s food business was now the fastestgrowing segment and would be the core focus for Chia Tai Group over the next three to five years. For the group’s retail business, its CP-Lotus hypermarket chain, which now has 22 outlets in China, will delay the opening of new stores for one year to focus on enhancing staff skills.
Mr Thanakorn said the Chinese retail market was so huge and shopping preferences of people in each city or region were different. As a result, the group will work harder to study each market before expanding the brand further. More importantly, store staff should be local people as they will better know their customers than staff hired from other cities. The group will also give authority to managers in each store to select product merchandising on their own.
“If we can develop our human resources, we will be ready to expand again next year and will be able to grow 10-15%per year in the future,” he said. Currently, the retail market in China is highly competitive with an increasing number of players, both local and international. CP-Lotus itself is the biggest hypermarket chain in Shanghai with a 2-3% market share.
(Source: Bangkok Post, May 24, 2010)