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Makro looks to introduce warehouse club model

Makro looks to introduce warehouse club model

Siam Makro, the listed operator of Makro wholesale retail stores in Thailand, has established a joint venture with local Cambodian partners to bring the international brand of warehouse clubs, also known as cash-and-carries, to Cambodia.

The joint venture is 70 percent owned by Makro ROH Co Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary Siam Makro, and 30 percent by Cambodian investors, with $2 million in initial registered capital, the company announced in a listing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) last week.

Makro stores sell low-cost bulk food and non-food products aimed primarily at supplying hotels, restaurants and convenience stores. The warehouse-style outlets operate similar to those of US wholesale retailer Costco, although its membership is more restricted.

According to Siam Makro’s website, membership applications must be accompanied by company documents such as a commercial registration certificate and the identification card of the company’s registered owner.

Siam Makro operates nearly 100 Makro stores in Thailand. In April, the company announced plans to sink 6 billion baht ($173 million) into opening 20 stores in Thailand this year, and another 3 billion baht to expand elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Executives at Siam Makro and the directors of its local joint venture could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Xavier Depouilly, general manager for Vietnam and Cambodia at market research firm IndoChina Research, said the cash-and-carry model was likely to find success in Cambodia. He pointed to the experience of German wholesaler Metro Cash and Carry, which entered the Vietnamese market in 2003 and expanded to 19 stores before selling the local unit to Thai conglomerate TCC.

“If we take the example of Vietnam, where Metro joined about 10 years ago and [was] sold back last year with good success, I would say that the ‘member-only’ model has potential, but what is most important is the quality and prices provided to customers with the right mix of local and international goods,” he said.

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