Bangkok Post

COL aims to corner upcountry market


SET-Listed COL Plc, the book, stationery and office supply company under Central Group, will start expanding its business on a franchise basis next year to increase its reach in the provinces.

The company also formed a partnershi­p with Kerry Express to provide delivery service throughout the country.

Managing director Wilawan Rerkriengk­rai said the company will allow investors to apply for franchise rights to open its OfficeMate stores next year.

Outside of the franchise system, the company will also open outlets on its own at retail shopping complexes operated by Central Group.

The company recently opened a 200-square-metre outlet in Hua Mak to serve as its franchise prototype. But COL has yet to finalise its franchisin­g fee and conditions.

“We hope to have 200 OfficeMate franchises up and running by next year,” she said.

The expansion via the franchise system is intended to boost sales upcountry to 60% of OfficeMate’s total in the coming years, up from 50% at present.

Thailand’s stationery and office supplies market was worth an estimated 30 billion baht last year, growing 5% annually on average.

“There are about 5,000 stationery and office supply shops nationwide. So far, we have seen opportunit­ies to convince them to become our franchisee­s. With the franchise system, we will be able to speed up our expansion, particular­ly upcountry. We hope to have OfficeMate available in every province nationwide in the near future,” said Ms Wilawan.

OfficeMate opened 22 years ago and has 64 branches across the country. Of the total, 40 branches are in Greater Bangkok and the rest are upcountry.

“The widespread growth of e-commerce has created a lot of entreprene­urs and small and medium-sized businesses across the country. This is why we have to diversify to provide various items for SMEs. This has made our provincial branches successful, particular­ly business-to-business stationery stores, which grew 70% last year,” she said.

COL also formed a strategic alliance with Kerry Express to provide express product delivery to customers nationwide. Kerry Express delivers parcels every day except Sunday. The service is now available at two Central shopping complexes on Rama II and Rama III roads and is expected to be rolled out at OfficeMate branches nationwide over the next several months. Customers can use its service from 10am to 10pm.

“The move is part of plans to add more services to make OfficeMate a one-stop solutions provider for all business owners,” said Ms Wilawan.

The company will spend 300 million baht to open eight new OfficeMate branches and renovate its six existing branches this year.

OfficeMate’s revenue this year is expected to reach 7.5 billion baht. That figure is forecast to increase to 10 billion baht by 2020.

COL’s revenue is expected to reach 12 billion baht this year. Of the total, 7.5 billion baht will come from OfficeMate and the remaining will come from B2S and e-book business.

COL shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 41.25 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 9.8 million baht.

 ??  ?? Ms Wilawan says e-commerce is creating opportunit­ies for office supply firms.
Ms Wilawan says e-commerce is creating opportunit­ies for office supply firms.

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