BANGKOK -- Thai retailing conglomerate Saha Group looks to cash in on the pandemic-driven rise of vending machines, with plans to greatly expand the number of units run by a group company that recently went public.
"We will have 20,000 vending machines by 2023," Apassara Panupatthana, managing director of Sun Vending Technology, said after the company listed on the Thai stock exchange on Tuesday. The company currently oversees more than 13,800 vending machines.
Use of vending machines has surged in Thailand as convenience stores were forced to cut round-the-clock operating hours due to the pandemic. Sun Vending's machines are mostly found in factories and industrial parks, and sell items ranging from drinks and snacks to instant ramen.
Sun Vending listed at an offer price of 2.54 baht. The stock rose as high as 4.02 baht before closing at 3.54 baht on the first day.
The initial public offering floated 200 million Sun Vending shares -- or nearly 29% of outstanding stock -- raising roughly 500 million baht ($14.7 million). Following the IPO, just over 44% of the stock is held by Saha Pathanapibul, Saha's main group company, together with affiliates.
Sun Vending has been expanding the use of cashless vending machines that take smartphone payments. Part of the funds raised in the IPO will be used to update vending machines. The company will also engage in rentals.
"About 75% of the total will be converted to smart machines by 2023," said Apassara.