November 28, 2011

[Thai] Singha's Indochina beer push


Singha Corporation plans to enter Indochina's beer market in earnest next year.

Two months ago, the company appointed group marketing manager Piti Bhirom Bhakdi as the first regional marketing director to look after the Indochinese market.

"Singha beer has been sold in Indochina through border trade for many years," said Mr Piti, "but now it's the right time to seriously expand our business in those countries on our own. We have unofficial sales teams in South China and Vietnam, a marketing team in Malaysia, and sales and marketing teams in Burma, Cambodia and Laos."

The Thai brewer will set up offices in the region next year, beginning with Burma and Cambodia, two places that could set sales records for Singha and Leo beer. Singha plans two offices in Cambodia.

Mr Piti said beer sales under Singha in Indochina, excluding border trade, amount to 35-40 million litres per year.

With its aggressive plan, the company expects to increase sales in each Indochinese market by 50-80% next year.

"We're also conducting a feasibility study to set up our own breweries in some Indochinese countries through our own investment, or joint ventures with local governments and investors," Mr Piti said.

Asked about the group's damage costs during the floods, he said the figure had not been finalised. Singha has insurance to cover all damages.

During the floods, the company temporarily closed its brewery in Pathum Thani; it has already resumed production.

Singha's joint venture XYPB, which makes plastic tags in Rojana Industrial Estate, is still inundated. The company has bought a new machine costing 300-400 million baht to replace an old one that was submerged a month ago.

"We're about 80-90% ready to fully resume our business," Mr Piti said. "It is now the period of building our stock and we will be back to normal early next year."

Singha beer products were in short supply on retail shelves from early last month to the middle of this month. Mr Piti insisted that product prices were the same as before the floods, with no mark-ups.

The company has revised up its beer sales target to 1.25 billion litres this year, 50 million litres higher than an earlier projection, in expectation of brisk pent-up demand after the floods.

Singha has put its effort into providing relief to flood victims during the past few months, with products and activities worth 300-400 million baht.

"We learned so many things that made us stronger from the floods," Mr Piti said. "If we love our family, our community, our country, nobody can harm us."

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