Aeon Plans Grocery Store Chain Across Cambodia

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Aeon is also looking to establish itself in Siem Reap city. KHMER TIMES / CHOR SOKUNTHEA

The Japanese retailer behind Phnom Penh’s biggest shopping mall is to open 30 grocery stores to cater to the country’s growing middle classes.

Aeon plans to open the stores across the capital and surrounding provinces following the success of its flagship 68,000 square-meter mall, which opened in 2014. According to the Nikkei Asia Review, the company is also looking to establish itself in tourist spots such as Siem Reap in a few years’ time.

“The company opened a pilot outlet in Cambodia in late 2015 and has decided it is time to expand. In the year to February 2018, Aeon plans to open three different types of shops, tailored to suburban areas, city centres and newly established residential areas. The stores will be designed according to local needs, with varying prices,” Nikkei’s report said.

Express Food Group general manager Virak Tep told Khmer Times that Aeon can see huge opportunities in Cambodia, since the country is enjoying strong economic growth and political stability, while people’s spending power is increasing.

“Lucky supermarket, for example, has been growing steadily over the last four or five years and has increased branches in Phnom Penh and the provinces. If Aeon opens more supermarkets, they will also be able to capitilise on rising demand from our growing middle-class,” said Virak.

Nikkei said the new city-centre shops will resemble convenience stores, with about 150 sq. metres of floor space. Stores in the suburbs will occupy 500 to 1,000 sq metres.

Cambodia has enjoyed strong economic growth of around seven per cent over the last two decades, prompting the Asian Development Bank to dub it “Asia’s new tiger” last year. Income per capita increased from $288 in the year 2000 to $1,307 in 2016, making Cambodia a lower middle-income country.

According to Aeon’s 2016 report, sales at stores in its existing Cambodian mall went up by 20.7 percent year on year – the highest growth compared to stores in other ASEAN countries.

In late May last year, Aeon broke ground on its second mall at the Pong Peay City site in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district. The $120 million project will cover 151,000 sq metres and open its doors by May 2018.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.