BANGKOK — Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Retail Corporation Pcl (CRC), plans to expand domestic online sales as well as its business in Vietnam, as the coronavirus outbreak slows economic growth at home, its top executive said on Thursday. Shares of CRC, which went to market on Feb. 20 in the country’s largest initial public offer (IPO), were trading 22% below its IPO price, against an 8% decline in the benchmark index. “We went into a perfect storm … but (that) can be a perfect opportunity,” Chief Executive Yol Phokasub told Reuters, citing the virus outbreak, a prolonged drought and a delayed budget bill. The Thai central bank has predicted that the coronavirus could cut growth to less than 2% this year amid a slowdown in exports and tourism. In 2019, the economy grew 2.4% Thailand has 40 reported cases of the virus, and residents have been avoiding public places like department stores and movie theaters. “These factors are creating new habits for consumers,” Yol said, expecting digital or online orders to contribute to 10% of sales, up from 5% last year. This was helped by on-demand deliveries through a partnership with Singapore-based ride hailing startup, Grab. China’s 11 million arrivals… Read full this story
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