Big Business Secrets
Did you know that Thailand is one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the region?
The country is a huge manufacturer and exporter, with growth rates some western nations envy.
While tourism is a major source of income for Thailand, it’s not the biggest.
You might be surprised to know that the largest single sector of the economy is automobile and automotive parts production.
Thailand is the second biggest market in the world, after the US, for pickup trucks.
Manufacturing, exports, and domestic sales of automotive products account for about 11% of the nation’s economy, against about 6% from tourism.
Having said that, the incredible strength of the Thai baht is (at the time of writing this) affecting numerous businesses.
Let’s have a quick look at some insanely large corporations that have an affect on people’s daily lives.
1. CP Group
(CP Group official video)
I’ll bet you’ve been into a 7/11 store in Thailand. If so, you’ve added to the profits of one huge corporation.
The CP Group is Thailand’s largest conglomerate, and among the biggest conglomerates on the planet.
It’s the single largest commercial investor in China, where it also has massive operations.
Thailand has the second largest number of 7/11 stores in the world after Japan, approaching 11,000. ‘CP All’ holds the master franchise for Thailand.
If you use any True service – internet, mobile phone service, Cable TV, etc., you’re also helping CP’s bottom line.
True is the second biggest mobile phone service provider, and the biggest overall telecoms company in Thailand.
Drive an MG Car or ride a Chinese motorcycle, eat almost any egg, pork, or chicken, feed your pets or farm animals, yes you guessed it! It’s all CP.
They’re into property development, banking and insurance, all stages of food production, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, automotives, packaging, telecoms, IT, retail, and a whole bunch more.
CP stands for ‘Charoen Pokphand’, but they were jokingly known as the ‘Chicken People’, as that was the product that really kick-started the business.
It’s reported that their revenue in 2018 was US$63 Billion.
You’ll be using or eating their products from the moment you step off the plane!
2. Central Group
(Central Group official video)
Central is known for it ubiquitous shopping malls, but there is a bit more to this family owned business than just malls.
The best known face of Central are the Central Department stores which pepper the map of Thailand.
Not everyone is aware that they also own Robinson Department stores, but operate it as a separate company.
They own and manage hotels and shopping malls in nine other countries. Their hotels are usually branded as Centara.
Tops is a Central-owned, very popular supermarket with outlets not just in their malls but increasingly in stand alone units.
CPN is the company’s property and development arm. It made business history with the nation’s most expensive land purchase when it bought about half of the British Embassy’s land to develop the Central Embassy mall in Bangkok.
It more recently went on to buy the remaining Embassy property for an equally large amount.
Recently they’ve entered the home construction market as CPN Residential, initially in the suburbs of Bangkok.
Central have a good number of master franchises for famous names like Marks & Spencer, KFC and Mr Donut, plus the rights to numerous other Japanese and Korean restaurant chains in Thailand.
Perhaps their most unexpected move was the takeover of Japan’s largest chain of pharmacies.
Supersports, B2S, Thai Watsadu, Powerbuy, Family Mart, CPN Residential, and the other divisions, all contributed to a 12% growth rate for Central in the first six months of 2019.
Last reported turnover was in excess of US$10 billion.
3. Minor Group
(Bloomberg interview with Minor CEO)
Here’s a really unusual business success story.
Started decades ago by an American teenager with US$1000, Minor has exploded from a backroom workplace into a multi-billion dollar operation across the globe.
And that same American teen is still at the helm, although now a long term Thai citizen in his 70s.
Never heard of Minor? Maybe not, but there’s a strong chance you paid for their products in some way or the other.
Have you ever used an Anantara, NH, Tivoli, Oaks, Avani, or Elewana hotel or spa?
Have you eaten Dairy Queen or Swensens ice cream? Stuffed your face at Sizzler, Burger King, or The Pizza Company?
They’re all either owned or franchise operated by Minor.
And just a couple of days after we published this, Minor Foods bought all the Bonchon Chicken outlets in Thailand.
Years ago they were the Thailand franchisee for Pizza Hut. Some kind of dispute arose which resulted on the loss of the franchise.
Quick thinking executives created The Pizza Company, which is now the biggest restaurant chain of it’s kind in Thailand.
Minor is divided into three sections; Food, Hotels, and Lifestyle.
All three have operations in other countries, especially the Hotels unit which can be found in Africa, Europe, Middle East, Australia, as well as Asia.
The Foods unit has 2100 outlets in 27 countries across the globe.
The Lifestyle division is a distributor of luxury brands to outlets in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
Revenue in 2018 was reported to be 58 Billion baht. (A little under US$2 Billion)
4. Siam Cement Group (SCG)
(Video is about 2 years old)
Reported to be Thailand’s second largest conglomerate, SGC products are everywhere.
While cement production and building supplies remains the core business, they’ve also ventured into other products, and other countries.
Their chemical division now brings in more revenue than cement, at about 44% of the total.
The growing packaging unit accounted for 18% of total revenue.
SCG was founded by King Rama 6 in 1913, and the Crown Property Bureau remains the company’s largest shareholder.
The conglomerate employs more than 54000 people across Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
SCG exports it’s products to lots of countries around the world, and has joint ventures with many international firms, including Michelin, Dow Chemical, Nissan Steel, and many others.
They have several subsidiaries including sanitaryware manufacturer Cotto, and CPAC which produces ready mixed concrete and roofing tiles.
Revenue in 2018 was reported to be close to US$16 billion.
5. PTT Plc
Another huge and highly successful conglomerate, which is surprisingly majority owned by the Thai government.
If you’ve spent any time in Thailand there’s a good chance you’ve been into one of their many petrol (gas) stations when travelling around.
PTT have a couple of thousand gas stations across the country, as well as 60+ in the Philippines.
Cafe Amazon, which you find at every PTT station and in many malls, is a PTT franchise.
However these ‘pumps’ (as they are known in Thai) are the tiny peak at the top of an enormous business iceberg.
PTT and it’s subsidiaries operate gas and oil exploration rigs on land and sea.
The products are pumped to various shore locations along a network of undersea pipes.
They recently bought out the offshore Thai operations of Shell Exploration.
They have fingers in the pies of coal mining in Singapore, a petrochemical plant in Indonesia, and are operating a natural gas field in the most unlikely of places – Mozambique
Revenue was reported to be close to US$40 billion. (note this is revenue not profit)
6. The Auto Industry
Of course this sector of the industry is not made up of one company but many, with Japanese brands leading the pack.
Toyota generally sells more vehicles of all types than any other brand, but Honda sells more cars.
The most desired brand for most Thais is Mercedes-Benz, with BMW following a bit behind.
Most other big industry brands are here too; Ford, Chevrolet, Izusu, Mazda, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, etc.
This industry has many sectors, vehicle assembly, automotive parts production, logistics, and of course sales.
Manufacturing is mostly (but not only) in Ayuddhya, and the eastern provinces of Prachinburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao.
These are areas where government incentives help businesses, especially to turn out eco-cars and electric vehicles.
Some vehicles made in Thailand are sold in the home market, but the majority are exported to other countries around the world, even Japan!
Thailand is the 13th largest automotive parts exporter and the sixth largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world, and the largest in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).
In 2017, vehicle exports to other countries resulted in revenue of US$28 billion for the nation.
We hope you found this article interesting. we know it only covers a fraction of the big corporations out there.
It’s not our usual type of story but we’d like to dispel the odd ideas some people have of Thailand.
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