Vietnam retail market abuzz with expansion plans and joint ventures

Dec 24, 2010. Retailers who have already managed to gain a foothold in the Vietnamese market are very busy working to expand and strengthen their presence here as forecasts predict a fast-paced growth for the sector through 2014.

Big C, the French-invested supermarket chain, now has 14 outlets in the largest cities in the country, five of which were opened this year.

South Korean retail giant Lotte has been looking for new store locations in Vietnam as it targets a total of 30 supermarkets in the country. The company currently operates two outlets, both in Ho Chi Minh City.

Germany-headquartered Metro Cash & Carry and Malaysian retailer Parkson also plan expansions.

Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, chairman of local retailer Saigon Co.op, said although Vietnam has restricted expansion by foreign retailers, they can dodge this easily by forming joint ventures with local firms or through franchising.

Channel News Asia reported on Monday that Saigon Co.op was partnering with Singapore supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice to set up a hypermarket chain in Vietnam. NTUC will help leverage Saigon Co.op’s network of supermarkets as well as its large customer base, the report said.

Local retailers are under a huge pressure as the competition grows tougher, Hoa said. His company operates a chain of around 50 supermarkets and many food stores around the country.

Japanese convenience store operator Ministop has big plans as well. The subsidiary of Japanese retail giant Aeon has been reported to be planning for a chain in Vietnam. The company has signed an agreement with G7, a unit of Vietnamese coffee producer Trung Nguyen, to implement its plan. The first Ministop store is expected to open in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2011, followed by 100 others in two years.

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