competition to heat up as players expand
Car service center chains throughout the Kingdom are
planning to expand this year, and it is feared that this expansion of
modern auto centers will sweep out old-styled shop-house centers.
Bridgestone Sales (Thailand) has been highly successful
in persuading shop-house auto services to turn to its modern Cockpit Car
Service Center. There are currently 45 Cockpit center branches and the
company plans to open more, to increase the chain members to about 100 in
2000. Bridgestone Sales (Thailand), however, owns only 9 of those centers,
while the rest are franchised.
B-Quik, the service center operated by Ford Operations
(Thailand), is another modern auto center chain which is highly successful
in the market. Ford has 26 branches as of last year, and the number will
be increased to 60 this year.
The Petroleum Authority of Thailand is to improve the
first V-Care center on Vibhavadee Rangsit Road to be its prototype shop
Max Auto Express, the ‘fast-fit’ center, has opened a total of 40
branches over the past 2 years, and ten more branches have been planned
Heineken brewer to
launch new beer for mass market
Thai Asia-Pacific Brewery, producer of Heineken beer in
Thailand, is set to launch Amstel, a new 5.5-degree beer, in the middle of
February aiming to tap into the mid-level beer market, which is between
Singha, Leo, and Chang beers. The new beer will be brewed to find a new
market niche after losing some share in the premium beer market to
Mittweida beer launched last October by Boon Rawd Brewery.
According to industry sources, Thai Asia-Pacific
planned to meet with distributors and wholesalers in the middle of January
to prepare for the launch. The price of the new beer would be very close
to that of Boon Rawd’s Singha beer, but to be above those of Boon
Rawd’s Leo, and Chang beer of Thai Beer 1999. However, PR manager of
Thai Asia-Pacific would not confirm the price.
Boon Rawd said the Mittweida launch has forced Thai
Asia-Pacific to narrow its profit margin and give away more profits to
retailers. Thai Asia-Pacific now gives 5 baht per bottle to the owners of
pubs, restaurants and other entertainment premises in order to promote
Boon Rawd, meanwhile, plans to increase its number of distributors from
40 to nearly 360 to boost Mittweida sales.
US group increases
ownership in Sansiri holding
US-based investment group, Starwood Capital has
exercised its right to buy capital increase shares in Sansiri Plc. The
purchase was in line with the company’s plan to increase the US
group’s ownership in one of the leading property developers in Thailand.
Starwood bought 8 million more Sansiri shares, for 8 baht each, in a deal
secured on January 11, said Srettha Thaveesin, managing director.
The buy-up has countered the earlier rumors that the US
group was about to withdraw from the Thai developer, which early last year
was on the brink of insolvency. The latest buy-up has increased
Starwood’s ownership to 7% in the new holding. The two parties agreed
last year that the US group would increase its ownership to 51% over the
next three years.
A total of 1,249 million capital increase shares were
sold at the same time, including 625.28 sold to financial institutions, or
creditors, to repay debts.
Sansiri insisted that it still enjoys full support from the US group.
The company’s outstanding debt currently stands at Baht 770 million.
switches from Opel to Chevrolet
General Motors Co. has changed its mind after finding
that the name Opel might not be attractive enough in the Thai market.
GM’s local operation, GM (Thailand), is set to launch the first
Thai-made Chevy instead, and the brand Chevrolet would be used in this
regional market. General Motors recently set up Chevrolet Sales (Thailand)
to be the distributor of the first Thai-made Chevy model, Zafira, said
The first Chevrolet model ever produced in Thailand is
to be introduced to the market during the BOI Fair next month. Prior to
that time, Chevrolet Sales (Thailand) would start introducing the
Chevrolet name to dealers and distributors; the US car logo would be put
up at showrooms nationwide this month, said the sources. Chevrolet will
make cars to cover all market segments, while the German car maker
produces only passenger cars under Opel brand name, said a GM source.
Besides passenger cars, GM has planned to launch
several other vehicles, which include pickup trucks, to this local market.
Opel cars do not have a successful record in Thailand under Pranakorn
Automobile group - its long-time distributor. Sales of Opel Corsa were
impressive, but after sales services failed to impress customers.
auctioneers upbeat on huge oversupply
Both foreign and local auction firms are seeing a boom
in used home sales as banks and other financial institutions try to clear
their stocks. Most of the houses up for auction in the coming weeks have
been repossessed by creditors.
Auctions organized over the past two years have set new
prices in this local land and house market; the prices have more or less
reflected reality, industry sources said.
Asset Auction Center Co., a local auctioneer, is set to
put SV City living units up for auction. The riverside condominium units
belong to the Sahaviriya Group, which was badly hurt in the Thai crisis.
There are more land and house developing projects going
up for sale this year, said an AACC source. Auctioned prices have been
between 60-70% of market prices, the source said.
Cushman & Wakefield from Australia has also joined the auction
business here. Harrison Realty, and El Gila & Associates, have been in
talks with about 10 local land developers about cooperation in auctions.
Aha Auction Co. is set to sell repossessed land and house worth over Baht
1 billion for Thai Farmers Bank later this month.
thousands golfers to fly in this year
About 300,000 golfers are expected to come to Thailand
for golf tournaments this year under promotion packages endorsed by the
Tourism Authority of Thailand. The golfers - from Europe, the US, and
Asian countries - are expected to spend Baht 2.5 billion while staying in
the Kingdom, said Patchpong Apichartapong, deputy TAT governor for
While road shows to Japan and other markets have been
planned in the middle of the year by private companies, TAT is to organize
Thailand Travel Mart festival in the same months - in Saraburi Province
which is about 100 km north of Bangkok. The golf exhibition has already
won 150 participants from all over the world, Patchpong said. About 50,000
golfers travel to Thailand regularly each year.
Notes: Each of the top ten golf course welcomes 6,000-7,000 golfers a
month. Golf in the eastern provinces, which include Pattaya, have been the
most popular destinations. French companies recently set up ‘Golffie
Club’ to be the coordinating center for European players. Golfers in
Florida and California have started to come to Thailand, as the cost here
is 5 times lower than in the US.
Internet: No more
price war, but service to be improved
Most Internet Service Providers have adjusted their
marketing strategy as the industry is entering into the new millennium,
with price wars being set as the last thing they would resort to. Most
local ISPs said they would try to capture more share of the organizational
market, and would not focus on selling Internet-hardware bundles any more.
Theerachai Pongpana, managing director of Samart
Infonet Co., said competition in the home user and retail Internet market
is likely to heat up this year after the constant growth the industry
experienced last year. The high growth in e-commerce in Thailand has been
among factors which would stimulate growth in Internet service this year,
CS Internet of Shin Corp brought down their per hour fee to 15 to 16
baht late last year while that of its ‘Easy Kit’ is as low as 12 baht
per hour for late night surfers. KSC bases its connection fee at 15 per
baht hour, the lowest price in the country. Loxinfo, meanwhile, brought
down its rate and increased using time for old customers.
Copyright 1999 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
Updated by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek, assisted
by Boonsiri Suansuk.