Charoen Pokphand to tap the US market

According to Executive Vice President, Sarasin Viraphol, the group is negotiating with Japanese suppliers of Ito-Yokado Co, one of Japan’s leading retailers, to jointly develop food supplies for 7-Eleven convenience stores in the United States.

Formerly a holding company for businesses that included banks, convenience stores, and restaurants, Ito-Yokado is now a subsidiary and the core operating company of Japan’s largest retail conglomerate, Seven & I Holdings, which owns the 7-Eleven chain.According to Mr Sarasin, CP is also negotiating with an unnamed US sauce producer to expand its food sales in the US market.
CP is preparing to invest at least 300 million baht this year in its local units, executives of its various divisions said at a briefing Sukhawat Dansermsuk, president of Global Kitchen Co Ltd, the local operator of the Chester’s Grill restaurant chain, said the company would invest 200 million baht to expand its chain to 150 outlets this year from existing the current 135. Chester’s Grill is expected to generate sales of 1.5 billion baht, up from 1.2 billion in 2006.
Although Chester’s does not have concrete plans to expand outside of Thailand, there has been heavy interest from foreign investors particularly from India, Vietnam and Cambodia, who want to invest in company franchises, said Mr Sukhawat. According to Mr Sukhawat, also in his capacity as president of International Pet Food Co, the manufacturer and distributor of JerHigh pet food, the company is preparing to invest 120 million baht to triple the production capacity of its Saraburi plant to 300 tonnes per month next year.
The pet food business is expected to grow to 200 million baht this year, a rise of 10-15%. Boosted by positive growth of its pet food business, the company also plans this month to add chicken essence beverages for pets. Paisal Chongbanyatcharoen, the president of the dairy affiliate CP-Meiji Co, said the company planned to invest 20 million baht to set up a factory in Saraburi province to produce premium yoghurt.The higher-priced premium yoghurt products are expected to hit the market by mid-2008 and would cater mainly to health-conscious consumers.
CP-Meiji expects sales to top three billion baht this year, up to two billion baht of which would be from pasteurised milk, 300 million baht from exports and the remainder from drinking yoghurt and soft yoghurt.
Mr Sukhawat said CP’s sausage business, which operates under four brands including CP, Mister Sausage, and the CP-Yonekyu was also in good shape despite Thailand’s economic difficulties. It expects sales to grow by 10% this year.