Vietnam's retail market continued to change when Maximark - one of the famous private retail brands - has left the game. The fierce competition in retail playground now becomes more intense than ever. And we are waiting for a breakthrough among domestic enterprises to compete with foreign giants who are accelerating their expansion.


Speed up in the acquisition and new opening


Late October, Vingroup, which has its own retail brand VinMart, has acquired 100% stake to become the new owner of Maximark. The acquisition includes 9 Maximark outlets and other properties which previously belonged to An Phong Investment JSC. Along with Citimart, Maximark is one of two first retail brands of domestic private companies. After Citimart agreed to sell 49% of its shares in the form of cooperation to Aeon - the leading retail group in Japan, and renamed as "Aeon Citimart" in late 2014, it can be said to have no more Vietnamese private supermarket.

Since Vingroup officially entered the retail sector, they has been continuously opening new supermarkets with unbelievable scale and speed. After nearly two years, there are 125 outlets under the names of VinMart and VinMart+, exclusive of 12 department stores under the name of Vincom and Vincom Mega Mall.

After acquiring Maximark, Vingroup added to their asset 9 supermarkets of An Phong, located around HCMC, Bien Hoa, Tuy Hoa, Cam Ranh, Nha Trang, in which there are 4 stable supermarkets that have large consumer traffic for many years in HCMC.

Besides Vingroup, Saigon Co.op., a 100 % state-owned company, has just begun construction of Co.opmart GoCong (Tien Giang) with an investment of 70 billion. It contributes to bring the total number of Saigon Co-op retail points up to 360. Within this year, they are goin to open 2 more supermarkets in majority form of both supermarkets, retail stores and convenience stores.

Foreign enterprises grow excessively


Since 2011, Emart - the Leading South Korean retailer seeked for a business opportunity in Vietnam and after four years, they officially mark their entrance into Vietnam with a US$60 million shopping center slated for opening in October this year. Before that, Lotte Mart is also quite successful with 11 supermarkets, including the latest supermarket opened in Can Tho on mid-October, 2015. This number is expected to increase to 60 stores before the end of 2020.


Most Japanese investors consider the success of Aeon in VN as a praiseworthy typical case in overseas investment. Aeon currently has 3 supermarkets in HCMC, Binh Duong and Hanoi expects to reach 20 malls before 2020. "We will expand to the outskirts and suburbs, focusing on the mall/department store model in the key areas of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, then will expand to the other key cities such as Da Nang, Can Tho, ... " - Mr. Yasuo Nishitohge said.


The Thailand investors also show their high interest in Vietnam retail market. In 2014, we saw the continuous acquisitions, M&A of from this investors, such as Berli Jucker group (BJC) bought 19 centers of Metro Cash & Carry VN with 655 million Euro, or Central Group finished purchasing 49% stake of Nguyen Kim Electronic system,... Besides, Thai investors also announced a long-term development strategy in VN with variety of retail models will be deployed in the near future.


Domestic brands will become uneasy

The retail playground in VN has been segmented quite clearly in market. For public common goods, the system of Co-op Mart and Big C undertake quite well. The ideal destinations for customers who have upper - middle income and above are Maximark , Citimart Aeon. The preferred options for entertainment complex combination with shopping are Vincom Mega Shopping Mall, Lotte Mart, SC Vivo City.


Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nhan - General Director of Saigon Co-op – said: “ The expandation in investment of domestic enterprises into the retail market is a good signal and very suitable. It creates a necessary counterweight to the maintain and preserve market share. Furthermore, the competition with foreign retail brands will help us have many opportunities to improve the domestic retail models faster and more effectively.”


However , according to experts in retail field, not only did the foreign retail brands accelerate investment in VN because of attractive market but we also need to pay attention to the possibility that VN is becoming a new point " regrouping " for others country promote their goods in the way " buy roots , sell top " in order to optimize their profits. So , at first the domestic consumers have benefit because there are many options in goods and diversified products . In long-term, the potential risk is domestic products will be " shrunken " at home-yard due to weaker in competition capacity .


Convenience stores rise up everywhere

The most attractive and competitive segment can be considered as convenience stores, which need small space to operate and can also squeeze into crowded residential areas. Even at the intersection Huynh Van Banh - Nguyen Van Troi - Tran Huy Lieu (Phu Nhuan District, HCMC), within the radius less than 1km, has three convenience stores of VN, Japan and Thailand together "reign" on this crowed street. These stores are being the choice of puppils, students, office workers,... for lunch, or as a place to stop for chatting like in the movies. Representative of Familymart (Japan) said that in the end of November, this convenience store system in VN will have about 85 premises in the strategic 300 stores in the next few years. The big retail enterprise in US - 7-Eleven- was also jumping into VN market after subsidiary company of Seven & I Holdings in US, Ink Seven Eleven, franchised for Seven System Vietnam to open a chain of convenience stores in VN, with the objective in the next three years is open 100 stores.  Before BJC Group (Thailand) acquiring Metro, it also acquired 42 joint venture stores of retailers in Japan and Phu Thai, and then these stores were renamed B's mart, business many convenient items are imported from Thailand. Saigon Co-op has about 200 shops and stores in this segment, business 100% domestic produced goods.



TRẦN VŨ NGHI - NHƯ BÌNH (tranvunghi@tuoitre.com.vn)

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