Aeon seeks to rapidly open more Vietnam shopping malls

Aeon, Japan’s biggest supermarket chain, has officially launched its first Vietnam shopping mall as part of its Asia shift strategy.

At the Aeon Mall Tan Phu Celadon grand opening in Ho Chi Minh City January 11, Aeon president Motoya Okada said his group was seeking to operate up to 20 shopping malls in Vietnam by 2020.

Vietnam is the third foreign country, after China and Malaysia, to have an Aeon shopping mall.

Okada said one of the key targets of Aeon in Vietnam was to win the heart of Vietnamese consumers. Towards this end, in addition to high quality products and service, Aeon Vietnam focuses on human capital development to create embedded staff.

“For example, since our Aeon Mall Tan Phu soft opening on January 1, we’ve seen a need to rapidly expand the parking lots here. One more thing is we need to quickly develop our second and third malls in Vietnam.”

The second one is set for opening this October in nearby Binh Duong province, and the third in Hanoi next year.

When asked about Aeon’s specific strategies to deal with fierce competition in the Vietnamese retail sector where foreign popular players have been operating for years, Okada said: “We have our own strategies, whatever other retailers’ strategies are.”

The first Aeon shopping mall in Vietnam, located in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Phu district, includes a mall with a total floor space of 50,000 square metres together with 1,500 staff, and a general merchandise stores (GMS) section with 23,000 square metres and 500 staff. One-third of the goods and products at the mall comes from Japan, another one-third are Vietnamese products, and the rest are other imports.

Aeon’s $135-million Vietnam arm’s cores are retail, developing shopping malls, GMS, export and import business.

The group in 2013 shipped about $60 million worth of Vietnamese products to Japan, Aeon vice president Nagahisa Oyama said, adding it expected the performance to scale up year after year.

By Tuong Thuy