In an effort to understand the meaning of Chinese New Year in Phnom Penh from a commercial standpoint, we sought the input of Helene Tho, marketing manager of DFI Lucky Private Limited, the company that operates Lucky Supermarkets.
At the company headquarters on Sihanouk Boulevard last week, Tho said Chinese New Year activities start with a spring cleaning fair that offers dishwashing liquid, cleaners and mops to cater for the Chinese tradition of getting the home clean before the holiday, which starts tomorrow.
Next follows the gift baskets which start at about $30 and are plastic wrapped for delivery and can contain standard items including fruit like tangerines, whiskey, crackers, cookies and bird’s nest beverages, or specific things chosen by the customers.
Tho says corporate customers every year order dozens of gift baskets for the favourite clients and associates.
“If they want to order a large number of gift baskets, they can contact our wholesale staff,” Tho said, adding there’s free delivery for a minimum order of 10 baskets. Some basket configurations cost more than $100.
Consistent best sellers in Chinese New Year tradition are tangerines. Tho says Lucky differentiates with the Kino tangerines, which are grown in Pakistan and arrive via Singapore.
“The local market offers Thai honey tangerines, so we differentiate by bringing in the Kino tangerines.”
In addition to selling tons of tangerines, beer and liquor are also part of the gift-giving tradition.
“We have a promotion with Kingdom Brewery that when a customer buys a case of bottles, we give them a free case in cans.”
Tho says Chinese New Year is about cooking, with big families coming together, so Lucky promotes cooking sauce brands like Lee Kum Kee and discounts on cooking oil brands such as Sunbeam.
“People can get their premium sauces from us and good prices on cooking oil,” she said. “During this occasion, Chinese people will do a lot of gift giving.”
In addition to the gift baskets and tangerines, Lucky also sells the red envelopes that people use to give pocket money.
“We decorate the stores with Chinese New Year themes,” she said.
The two busiest Lucky supermarkets are the Sorya and Sihanouk locations, which are nearly the same in terms of traffic, according to Tho.
In March 2012, Lucky merged with Dairy Farm International, which acquired 70 per cent of the company. Dairy Farm is part of the Hong Kong-headquartered Jardine Matheson group of companies, which merged both with the supermarket and the Lucky fast food outlets. The original Lucky owners retained ownership of their upstairs department store.
Tho is happy with the results of the merger.
“Since the merger we have stability of supply, consistency in terms of stocks, more fresh dairy products, and more imported fresh produce,” she said.
Now there are seven Lucky supermarkets, with plans to open two more this year, one in April at the new Happiness Mall shopping mall across the Japanese Bridge. Another Lucky just opened at the Tonle Bassac community in December, preceded by the opening of the Lucky at Ratana Plaza on 11-11-11.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]