Central Group, one of Thailand’s largest conglomerates, has recently announced three major overseas investments totaling 20 billion Baht to reinforce its strategy to build presence in world’s leading tourist destinations. With 72 years of retail & hospitality expertise and experience, Central Group is extending its footprints to Vienna, Osaka and Turin.
Executive Chairman and CEO CENTRAL Group Tos Chirathivat commented, “Central Group continues to embark on our strategy to ride on Global Tourism Trend by developing high quality flagship projects in major tourist cities. Our most recent investment of over 20 billion Baht comprises three landmark projects: an iconic innovative Luxury Retail and Hotel Complex in Vienna, Centara’s first Centara Grand Hotel Osaka in Japan, and the relaunch of a completely refurbished Rinascente Department Store in Turin, Italy. Every investment reflects our commitment to take part in local development, to create innovative and high-quality experiences which meet the needs of customers and tourists from around the world.”
- Luxury Mixed-Use Project in Vienna
The 58,000 sqm development comprises a luxury department store, a luxury hotel with 150-165 keys, retail shops andupscale restaurants with publicly accessible roof park.Centrally located at Mariahilfer Straße, a popular shopping district nearby Vienna’s famous museum quarter, the project is intended to bring to the city an iconic, sustainable, and future oriented development that redefines city life and serves as a new meeting place for both locals and visitors.
To materialize this vision, an international design competition was launched in collaboration with the city of Vienna in May 2019. Four internationally renowned architectural firms participated, namely, O.M.A (Office of MetropolitanArchitecture)from Rotterdam, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)from Copenhagen, Snøhettafrom Norway and Hadi Teherani,an Iranian-German architect based in Germany.
O.M.A., the prestigious firm of Pritzker Prize winner Rem Koolhaas won the competition with the design concept“The Link” which strategically andseamlessly connect the new building complex with the citysurrounding by offering a series of vibrant public and commercial spaces, making it both open and intimate at the same time. The project is a joint venture between Central Group and Austria’s premier SIGNA Group, and is due to openin2023.
- Centara Grand Hotel Osaka
Centara Grand Hotel Osaka is the first Centara-branded property in Japanwhich will occupy a prime site in Osaka’s Namba district, the centre of leisure tourism for the city and the wider Kansai region. Osaka is Japan’s no. 2 destination for international visitors given the city’s significance in Japanese culture and its proximityto Kyoto, Kobe and Nara. The development reflects Central Group’s commitment to its strategy to extend its footprints to world’s leading tourist destinations.
Comparable to Centara Grand at Central World, Centara Grand Hotel Osaka will be newly built into a flagship five-star hotellocated at the city center, with 515 keys occupying a stunning new 34-storey tower overlooking Namba Parks. The top floors will include a lounge along with customizable space for meetings and events, plus a rooftop restaurant sky bar providing panoramic 360-degree views of Osaka.
The design is a perfect blend of Japanese-inspired and lively Thai-infused architecture with facilities include award-winning Spa Cenvaree, a fully equipped fitness centre, a diverse selection of restaurants and banquet facilities. The hotel’s spacious lobby will warmly welcome guests with touches of Thai and Japanese style and ambience.
The hotel location puts guests at the doorstep of some of Osaka’s leading entertainment, shopping and cultural attractions. A few steps away is the marvelous “must-visit” Namba Parks, a massive rooftop garden with cliffs, ponds, streams and waterfalls. The Namba area, also known as Minami, is home to countless restaurants and bars, shopping venues, an electronic district, as well as one of Osaka’s most revered Shintoshrines.
Centara Grand Hotel Osaka is a partnership between Centara Hotels& Resorts,Taisei Corporation and Kanden Realty & Development. The hotel is scheduled to open in 2023.
- Rinascente Department Store, Turin
Rinascente Turin is another project of great pride for Central Group. Turin is Italy’s hidden jewel, a classic city rich with culture and history. With total investment of 2 billion Baht, the Group acquired the property in 2017 and totally refurbished and upgraded the building to create new and more prestigious retail experienceto the people of Turin and tourists.
The department store was completely rebuilt and expanded, with net selling space almost doubled. Design was led by world-famous Gianmatteo Romegialli, whogave the store an elegant Travertine marble façade with breathtaking Ground floor characterized by 4 big pillars and a large chandelier as centerpiece. The rest of the designer team comprises Paolo Luccetta, Fabio Fantolino, David Lopez and Fanny Bauer.
Highlights of thiswhole renovation include the new accessories area featuring new collections by luxury brands likeBottega Venetta, Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Marni,and their total look concept that includes bags, shoes and clothing. The international allure of Turin Rinascente is also expressed in the Japanese-Brazilian fusion specialties by Temakinho – a success story from the Roma Tritone flagship store, located on the -1 floor and ground floor where it also has pleasant outdoor seatings.
The reopening ceremony, hosted by Central and Rinascente executives in October 2019, was presided over by Chiara Appendino, the Mayor of Turin. Celebrities and customers also joined in the celebration.
Strong Thai Baht and Highest Import Tax
Central Group’s international investment and growth can be partly attributed to the strong Thai Baht, which has appreciated substantially against most major currencies over the last few years. In 2018, Central Group’s international operations, primarily in Vietnam, Europe and the Maldives, contributed around 30% of Grouprevenue. This number is expected to grow materially in the next 5 years with the new projects in the pipeline.
Despite the general economic slowdown in the EU,the fact that Central Group’s European businesses this year continue to see healthy growth can be explained by the strong 12-20% increase in tourist sales in all three countries – Italy, Denmark and Germany. Interestingly, Thai tourist spending jumped even higher in the first 8 months in 2019, reaching 50% year-on-year growth in Italy and 30% in Munich.
The strong performance of Central Group’s EU operations clearly reflects Thai consumers’ new travel-oriented lifestyle that led to a rapid surge in spending overseas. The trend is facilitated by the strong Thai Bahtcoupled with the lower taxes, which make shopping and purchasing goods overseas much more attractive than in Thailand.“Thailand has a huge opportunity to drive domestic spending and tourism growth by lowering import duties and optimizing the foreign exchange rate. Today, Thai import duties on major lifestyle categories are the highest in Asia, putting the country at a disadvantage as a shopping destination. If Thai Baht depreciates and import duties are lowered,it will be more attractive for tourists to visit and shop here, andthere will be less incentive for Thais to shop overseas. Given the significant contribution to the country’s employment and GDP, a vibrant and thriving tourism and retail sector is key to driving Thailand’s healthy and sustainable economic growth overall,” concluded Tos.