After much hype and delays related to Covid-19 7-Eleven opened its first store in Cambodia in September 2021 to much fanfare, one year on the company is recording strong growth as well as an increasingly loyal crowd.
Cambodia Investment Review spoke to Mr. Chairoj Tiwatmuncharoen, Managing Director International of CP ALL PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED, the operator of 7-Eleven in Cambodia about how the company was doing one year on.
A year of 7-Eleven Cambodia
When 7-Eleven finally opened in Cambodia last year it marked the end of years of speculation about the company entering the local market. The company’s Cambodian arm initially signed a franchise agreement in May 2020 with U.S.-based 7-Eleven, a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings unit Seven-Eleven Japan.
CP All has more than 12,000 7-Eleven stores in Thailand, with the company being the market leader in the Thai mini-mart sector, above Big C, and with another 700 stores slated to be opened in 2022 alone according to the company.
Their initial opening was limited to a single store in the lesser-known Prek Leak part of Phnom Penh.
To read more about the opening day of 7-Eleven in Cambodia click here.
Covid restrictions at the time meant that only limited people were allowed in a time, meaning waiting times of over 30 minutes, rows of empty shells, and the icing on a disappointing cake, an alleged Covid outbreak related to the store.
These opening day jitters though were to prove just that, with the store expanding throughout the capital and into seven provinces, namely Kampong Cham, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, and lastly Sihanoukville, which opened its first store last month.
As for why it has been so successful Mr. Chairoj Tiwatmuncharoen told Cambodia Investment Review that Cambodians associate 7-Eleven with Thailand and that Cambodians tend to favor Thai products. Thus as the Cambodian economic situation continues to improve, we see a huge potential for growth within the country.
Last year, the popular Thailand-based grocery and general merchandising retailer – Big C – announced it was embarking on a rapid expansion over the next five years planning to open 350 stores across the country and creating thousands of local jobs.
To read more about Big C expansion plans in Cambodia click here.
Future growth of 7-Eleven in Cambodia
With branches now in seven of Cambodia’s provinces according to Mr. Chairoj Tiwatmuncharoen growth within the Kingdom remained a key priority with him stating that CP Brands were sticking to its three core principles of benefiting the country, the employees, and the organization.
He added that not only were 99% of staff Cambodian but they were benefiting from what he describes as a “new management system” in Cambodia as set out by the parent company in Thailand. He also stressed how the store would have an overall positive impact on the local economy.
“We can say that at all 7-Eleven stores, every process is connected to help push forward economy in Cambodia including material sellers, contractors, mechanics and transporting business in the country also. All these help push and enhance Cambodia’s economy directly,” he explained.
Yet despite the growth, there were still issues that needed to be addressed, such as digital payments, as well as supply lines.
The store is one of the few places within the Kingdom where one cannot use either ABA pay or bank cards, instead partnering with the lesser used TrueMoney. This has led to many customers not having cash when they get to the till something consumers are not currently all that used to.
Another problem seems to be with supply lines, with customers on a late-night trip to the franchise often seeing empty shelves, particularly concerning their popular imported fast food range.
Quite how quickly 7-Eleven can fix these issues is yet to be seen, but their entry and fast growth within the sector are likely to have their competitors at least a bit worried.
CP All (Cambodia) Co., Ltd currently holds a 30-year exclusive right to select franchises, with the option of two further 20-year concessions, starting as of August 2021.