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Business

Central Pattana shopping malls spread into rural Thailand

Wallaya Chirathivat, right, senior executive vice president at Central Pattana, explains the company's new project in northeastern Thailand.

BANGKOK -- Thai shopping mall operator Central Pattana will stretch outside of its Bangkok base, with locations to open this week and next year in areas where the economy is expanding as well as near the nation's borders.

The company, the real estate development arm of retail giant Central Group, said Monday it will open a mall complex offering services such as a supermarket and cinema in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima in the third quarter of 2017. Central Pattana will invest about 10.5 billion baht ($300 million), the company's second-largest investment ever for one project after its flagship CentralWorld mall in downtown Bangkok.

"Nakhon Ratchasima is a center that connects [the ASEAN Economic Community], with easy access from Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. In the future, it will be a vital connecting point of the AEC," Wallaya Chirathivat, senior executive vice president at Central Pattana, said as to why the company chose the location, which is about 200km from the Cambodia border.

Nakhon Ratchasima has 2.6 million people, second among provinces after Bangkok, and is considered the center of northeastern Thailand. The per-capita gross provincial product was about 97,000 baht in 2013, data from the National Economic and Social Development Board shows. This figure is only about one-fifth that of Bangkok, but the company sees the province's economy as rising thanks to upcoming train and road projects.

The company will build not only the mall but also a 400-room hotel and condominiums in the same area with economic expansion in mind. The complex will offer amenities for business users, such as a 7,000-sq.-meter convention hall. The mall will open in 2017, with the hotel and condos built in five to 10 years, the company said.

Central Pattana will open another mall Thursday in southern Thailand's Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, about 250km from the Malaysia border. The per-capita gross provincial product in 2013 was 96,000 baht, and the Thai government is promoting the province as a tourism destination. The company invested about 1.9 billion baht for the mall, which has about 300 stores.

Central Pattana has 29 malls in Thailand. But with Bangkok already having more than 10 branches, the capital is saturated. The company said earlier it will continue to invest domestically and is looking at provincial areas, which have plenty of space and an expanding economy. The first overseas branch is planned for Malaysia in 2018.

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