Managing Director Phidsanu Pongwatana.
A year after acquiring Viet Nam’s biggest wholesaler, Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam Company Ltd, Thailand’s TCC Group has changed its name to MM Mega Market Vietnam. Viet Nam News speaks with MM Mega Market Vietnam managing director Phidsanu Pongwatana about the company’s strategy and more.
The Vietnamese retail market is developing strongly with the entry of many foreign retailers. Do you think this is a good time for a new brand name in the market? What differences will the change in name bring? What can customers expect from the new brand in terms of quality, service, prices and others?
We see huge untapped potential in the retail market in Vieät Nam – a 90-million population and, importantly, a huge share of young population, stable gross domestic product (GDP) growth of over 6 per cent, and the homecoming of Vietnamese expatriates from other countries.
Statistics indicate that modern retail channels have only met 25 per cent of local consumers’ needs. Forecasts by the Commercial Research Institute under the Ministry of Industry and Trade show that retail trade growth in Viet Nam will be 11.9 per cent in 2016-20, with the total market value rising to about US$179 billion by 2020, meeting around 40 per cent of consumers’ needs.
Given these factors, I believe the retail market in Viet Nam will see even more development in future.
With the new brand, we want to bring a new way of shopping to Vietnamese customers – a modern warehousing platform. This model not only provides consumers with convenience and comfort, but also gives them an exciting shopping experience.
TCC’s goal is to launch MM Mega Market as an ideal place for people to shop and be served by professional and passionate employees. To do that, we have been making some groundbreaking all-round changes, from improving the corporate image to setting up the stores, developing new products, and so on.
To meet the Vietnamese customer’s needs, we will develop more food and non-food products that were not previously found at Metro. In terms of non-food products, we will focus on garments, textile and home plastic products.
What is your take on the potential of the Viet Nam retail market? What strategy does your company have to achieve success and retain the leading position Metro held?
Not only will we continue to further the values that Metro Vietnam had been working hard to build over the last 14 years in Vieät Nam, we will make strong investments here to develop a new brand name that is better in every way, from services to products, to serve our customers in Viet Nam to the best of our capabilities.
One of the first things we will do right after the launch of the new identity is to further co-operate and grow together with local suppliers, develop more new products to serve our current 1 million professional customers including canteen, restaurant, hotel, etc.. while creating some of the most competitive product categories in the market to offer even more benefits for customers.
We will reinforce food safety control through the development of safe food supply chains by developing two meat platforms in Ha Noi and HCM City. We always place the quality, hygiene and safety of food products first, with a wide range of strict quality control norms. We are one of the first to launch the Quick Response (QR) Code plastering application to help customers who seek traceability of food products using their smart phones, and we will add QR codes to many products at all our stores very soon.
In the next three years, starting in 2018, we will expand our network with a target of opening at least five stores each year, starting with Ha Noi and HCM City to better serve our customers.
We are confident that the new MM Mega Market brand will soon win consumers’ hearts and minds, strengthening its leading position in the market.
MM Mega Market An Phu in HCM City's District 2 follows the new concept of a modern warehouse outlet. — VNS Photo
What is MM Mega Market’s role in TCC Group’s strategy to gain ground in the Vieät Nam retail market? What is the role of the Vietnamese market in TCC Group’s plans for growth in Asia?
As one of the most important Thai investors in Viet Nam, through MM Mega Market's systems we will strengthen the marketing and distribution of products from Vieät Nam to Thailand as well as other markets in ASEAN where TCC is present.
We will make major investments in our vegetable and fruit depot in Da Lat and fish platform in Can Tho, which will not only serve our consumers in Viet Nam, but also enable exports to other markets in TCC’s system like Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, with key products including cabbage, Japanese potato, fish and others.
Metro had close co-operation with Vietnamese farmers and distributed their products. Is your company doing the same?
We not only continue but even do much better. We are currently working with 70 VietGAP certified farmers in Lam Dong with a total of 150 hectares of land used for growing VietGAP-quality vegetables and fruits. We are steadily making progress on the path to expanding production land to 250ha, and aim to raise the number of VietGAP farmers to 120 in the near future and further develop our safe vegetable and fruit line-ups through hydroponic and organic techniques in the near future.
In Can Tho, we have plans to widen the safe fish supply chain by increasing volumes by 50 per cent to 3,000 tonnes, and increase the size of the “farmer community” from the current 100 to 150 this year.
TCC used to speak about plans to boost Vietnamese exports to Thailand and other markets in the region. Can you tell us about it? Which Vietnamese products have potential for export? What can farm produce exporters expect from this?
As an agriculture powerhouse, Viet Nam has great potential to produce and sell agricultural products such as fish, fruit and vegetables. We have plans to export products like dragon fruit, coconut, cabbage, and Japanese sweet potato from Viet Nam to Thailand and other TCC markets such as China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
Apart from agricultural products, we will reach out to new suppliers for fast foods, snacks, fish, vegetables and fruits for export to Thailand. We are looking for suppliers of traditional Vietnamese confectionery products, which we believe will be loved in the Thai market.
What do you predict for the Vietnamese retail market in 2017?
With the entry of some giant foreign retailers, the Vietnamese retail market will become more competitive. However, the competition is good for both the market and consumers. Local and foreign retailers will improve services and products more and more to attract consumers.
The shopping habits of Vietnamese have changed a lot in recent years towards convenience. Furthermore, there is a trend of consumers switching from traditional shopping channels to modern channels. Retailers will improve to adapt to those changes and take the opportunity from this trend. So I can say that 2017 will be an exciting year for the retail market.— VNS