Vietnames retailers expanding faster than foreign peers


Local retail firms are expanding quickly while foreign counterparts stagnate or quit due to fierce competition.

The number of convenience stores in the country from April last year to April this year had risen by 72 percent year-on-year to over 3,100, according to Ho Chi Minh City market research firm Q&Me. That means 1,300 convenience stores came to the market in just one year.

Half of them, 660, came from Vinmart+, a convenience store chain of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup. This is a growth of 82 percent. In the same period, supermarket chain Vinmart saw its number of store risen by 82 percent to 120 outlets.

Bach Hoa Xanh, a retail unit of the country’s major phone seller Mobile World (MWG), now has over 500 department stores after incorporated in 2015. It is seeing strong growth with VND4.3 trillion ($184 million) in revenue last year, three times that of 2017.

The market has recently seen strong merger and acquisition activities, with Vingroup’s retail arm VinCommerce buying out convenience store chain Shop&Golast month and supermarket chain Fivimart last October.

Vietnam’s retail market has become increasingly crowded with both local and international players over the last five years. Although experts have said that the market has a lot of growth potential, many foreign businesses have quit or scaling back expansion plans.

French supermarket group Auchan Retail might be the newest player to withdraw from the market.

Auchan’s 15 out of 18 supermarkets will stop operating on June 3. Its CEO Edgar Bonte said that their business in Vietnam generated revenues of 45 million euros ($50.4 million) last year, but was making losses. He did not provide figures of the losses.

Bonte told French newspaper Les Echos last week the company had decided to sell its stores in Vietnam.

A source from the company, who wished not to be named, said the firm is negotiating with a few retailers to sell the outlets and the negotiations “are expected to end before Auchan withdraws from Vietnam early next month.”

Germany-headquartered Metro was sold to a Thai investor in 2014 and disappeared from the market ever since, while Malaysia’s Parkson has been closing down its mallssince 2015.

Other convenience store chain has failed or will unlikely meet its initial expansion target. Japanese Ministop had only 115 stores as of April, even though it had planned to have 800 by last year.

Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart saw its store number dropped by nine to 151 from last April to this April, while its initial plan was to have 1,000 stores by next year.

Vietnam’s revenue from selling goods last year rose by 11.7 percent from 2017 to $142 billion, up 12.4 percent from 2017.