Bringing the standards and quality of Japanese retail brands to Vietnam

March 30, 2023 | 10:02
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Vietnam remains an enticing business and investment environment for Japanese investors, especially in the retail sector. Furusawa Yasuyuki, general director of AEON Vietnam, explained to VIR’s Oanh Do how the company is making further efforts to develop its brand while also bringing the best value to customers.

This year, difficulties from within the economy will continue to affect the retail industry and demand is expected to continue to decline. How does AEON Vietnam think 2023 will shape up in general?

Bringing the standards and quality of Japanese retail brands to Vietnam
Furusawa Yasuyuki, general director of AEON Vietnam

Although there are many difficulties, I think the economic growth rate in 2023 will remain at a stable level, reaching the growth target set by the Vietnamese government.

However, recently, rising raw material prices have significantly affected the lives of consumers. This will also be one of the factors affecting consumption trends in 2023.

Besides that, due to the influence of inflation in Europe and the US, the number of export orders from Vietnam decreased sharply. Some businesses are forced to cut labour and reduce working hours, greatly affecting the economy and the lives of workers - as well as the consumers.

I think, within in the first half of this year, there will still be many difficulties and those may take time to resolve, so in this context, retail businesses need to find breakthough solutions to attract customers.

What plan does AEON Vietnam expect to mobilise in order to attract customers in the context of tightened spending?

AEON will make every effort to keep prices stable for essential items. We have researched and developed private brand products as well as specialised in our sales areas, while improving and changing the sales floor to attract customers.

The objective is that people return to our stores here in Vietnam with a completely fresh feeling and get new impressions and experiences.

We will continue to maintain and promote the EDLP programme (everyday low price) to bring essential products that are widely used by consumers at a reasonable price.

Every few months, AEON Vietnam will review and change the list of preferential products to suit the needs of our customers. This is also one of the programmes that bring practical effects, which are loved and appreciated by our customers.

The company will consider what products customers like the most, and we will promote products with good prices to suit the needs of customers.

AEON wanted to nearly triple the number of merchandise stores and supermarkets in Vietnam by 2025. What is the current status of this goal?

In the past 11 years, we have met our expectations for the first phase of development. When I came to Vietnam in 2021, it was a time when AEON Vietnam had laid the foundation for its second stage of development. However, the peak of the pandemic changed our plans somewhat.

There were of course many limitations at this time, and some remain, but yet we continued to attain high growth. AEON Vietnam wants to maintain and ensure this growth rate.

Due to the restrictions everyone faced over the past few years, negotiations with landowners/lessors have been slower than planned, but we are still aiming to develop 16 shopping malls and supermarkets by 2025. This number includes stores of medium and large scale.

Why do Japanese investors choose Vietnam as a destination and what do you think the retail market of Vietnam will look like in the next five years?

The Vietnamese population is considerable and this is also a consumer country, so there is a lot of potential for development in the coming years. In addition, the diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam have been superb so far, with many efforts by both sides to develop a strategic partnership.

There were times when the investment environment in Vietnam has changed considerably, but the potential is still outstanding and it will continue to attract foreign investment.

Vietnam’s retail industry still has a lot of potential due to changes in consumer trends and behaviour. Here in the country, incomes are still gradually increasing and consumers also have a desire to use better, more advanced products and experience better services. This is also an opportunity for growth.

We will expand our network here to increase customer touchpoints and promote e-commerce for the growing trend of online shopping.

In the next five years, the retail market in Vietnam can develop strongly if businesses can anticipate and respond to market changes. There will be significant changes in terms of products and demand for them.

Retail businesses are also accelerating investment to open more stores in their system, so the market will be very competitive.

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By Oanh Do

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