This story appears in the July 2022 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia
This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of Thailand’s Richest 2022. See the full list here.
As the pandemic roiled the retail sector worldwide, the Chirathivats of Central group doubled down. In December, in what was one of their biggest overseas acquisitions to date, they inked an estimated $4.5 billion deal to buy the storied U.K. department store Selfridges in partnership with Austrian retailer Signa Holdings. The acquisition gives the group an iconic, century-old storefront on London’s famed Oxford Street along with 17 other stores. Central and Signa already co-own a portfolio of luxury department stores across Europe.
Central, led by the founder’s grandson Tos Chirathivat, isn’t done yet. The group’s earmarked $6.6 billion to be invested over the next five years to expand its domestic and regional footprint both in retail and property development. Despite these growth ambitions, the family’s wealth fell nearly 9% to $10.6 billion.
The family’s listed flagship Central Retail, which gets 72% of its revenue from its home market, plans to invest 100 billion baht ($2.8 billion) over the next four years to expand its retail businesses. Its ultimate aim: increase revenue and market cap 2.5 times and Ebitda 3.5 times by 2026. In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, revenue flatlined while net profit fell. But in a sign of revival, in the first quarter of 2022 the company reported a 15% year-on-year uptick in revenue to 56.3 billion baht, while net profit surged nearly 190% to 1.3 billion baht. The current market cap of the company is about 207 billion baht.
Meanwhile listed property unit Central Pattana has planned a 120 billion baht investment outlay by 2026. Future projects include mixed-used developments that encompass shopping centers, residences, hotels and offices across 30 Thai provinces. It’s also eyeing new investments in Malaysia and Vietnam. Its stock is up 6% since last June, even though both revenue and net profit fell in the first quarter.