Sattahip merchants want new Tesco Express blocked to protect 7-Eleven

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Sattahip merchants are protesting the construction of a Tesco Express convenience store on Soi Bonkai, arguing it will hurt sales by family-run businesses and 7-Elevens.

Soi Bonkai merchants Arisara Thongpol, 42, and Yaowaret Vichien, 34, presented an 800-name petition against the planned Tesco Lotus mini-store to Sattahip District Chief Chaichan Iamcharoen Oct. 6.

The two women claimed that opening a Tesco Lotus – which they wrongly believed is foreign-run – would hurt sales of local vendors and, in particular, 7-Eleven outlets.

Merchants in Sattahip march to try and stop the building of a Tesco Express in their neighborhood. Merchants in Sattahip march to try and stop the building of a Tesco Express in their neighborhood.

“If international investors are allowed to compete with Thai businesses, particularly 7-Eleven, Thailand’s currency will weaken, harming the nation’s economy,” the petitioners argued.

What they apparently didn’t realize is that Tesco Express is just as “Thai” as 7-Eleven. While Tesco is British-owned and 7-Eleven Japanese-owned, stores in Thailand are both fully operated by Thai companies: Tesco Lotus by Ek-Chai Distribution System Co. and 7-Eleven by Charoen Pokphand Group, the same company that first brought Tesco outlets in Thailand in 1998.

The CP Group sold its share of the Tesco Lotus partnership in 2003 and the joint venture was reorganized with ownership of the franchises turned over to Ek-Chai.

Nonetheless, the women argued their business was suffering because of “internationally owned businesses” and urged Chaichan to block construction of the mini-mart so 7-Elevens in the area do better. They also claimed a new convenience store would create more traffic congestion.

Arisara later presented the same petition to Sattahip Mayor Narong Bunbancherdsri, additionally claiming the Tesco Lotus should be stopped because the franchisee had evicted the former tenants on the property without notice, even though they were renting based only on a verbal contract.

Narong, at least for now, withheld his signature from the construction permit while his staff investigates the petitioners’ claims.