The Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, projected to account for around 70 per cent of global economic growth this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Even as recession fears loom – with a number of European countries impacted earlier this year – the Asia-Pacific, and Southeast Asia in particular, remain resilient. For companies looking to expand, there are significant opportunities across the region.
In line with this trend, PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR) is placing greater emphasis on international growth – aiming to become a leading provider of mobility solutions and lifestyle offerings.
The company has had considerable success with its oil and non-oil businesses in Asia. It exports petrochemical products globally, with customers in more than 40 countries.
The Thai company’s services have evolved over time, with the vision of providing a broader array of products and services to meet consumer needs. Its PTT Stations began as fuel stops, but are now lifestyle hubs with retail stores and restaurants in more than 2,500 outlets across Asia.
As the need for sustainable development grows, OR has also been introducing electric vehicle (EV) charging capabilities at its stations, and is working with several overseas partners to expand its EV Station PluZ network to facilitate EV transition across Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia.
OR founded its retail coffee house chain Café Amazon in 2002. It is now one of the top 10 coffee house chains in the world, with more than 4,300 outlets across 11 Asian countries.
With its established presence in Southeast Asia, OR believes it is well positioned to capitalise on growth opportunities across the region. The company earmarked US$900 million for investment this year, and has devoted significant resources to its operations in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
These countries represent some of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, with foreign investment on the rise as a result of urbanisation and free trade agreements with major trade partners such as mainland China.
Its international venture in Cambodia remains its largest to date, led by the operation of more than 160 PTT Station branches and 230 Café Amazon outlets.
After almost three decades in Cambodia, OR is hoping to build on its strong customer base to support its expansion plans. Beyond its key businesses, the company has ventured into the laundry sector in partnership with K-nex Corporation, with plans to bring Otteri Wash & Dry – a Thai laundromat chain run by K-nex – to Cambodia. The first outlet was opened at a PTT Station in Phnom Penh earlier this year.
In addition, OR announced a US$100 million investment in an oil depot in Cambodia in August.
In Laos, a decade of operations has seen the company open more than 50 PTT Stations and 80 Café Amazon outlets. The country is next in line for the installation of EV charging stations.
This scaling up marks a timely development for OR, with the Laos government aiming for electric vehicles to make up 30 per cent of the nation’s automobiles by 2030. Laos is a transit hub and, though landlocked, it connects mainland China with Southeast Asia. The nation has a growing need for improved transport infrastructure and mobility services as it accelerates its economic development by means of cross-border trade. This will help with the company’s expansion plans in the country.
In Vietnam, OR has been looking to capture a share of the country’s developing coffee industry, fuelled by a growing middle-class population with a significant disposable income. Since 2020, the company has opened 20 branches of Café Amazon, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City.
As OR looks to scale up its operations in Southeast Asia through strategic partnerships in key markets such as Cambodia, growth will be focused on retail and oil, facilitating mobility, offering various lifestyle services and expanding its portfolio globally.
As part of this process, OR has established a set of sustainable development goals, which it defines as S – Small (Opportunities for Communities); D – Diversified (More Partners, Products and Services); and G – Green (Low Carbon Business Areas). They include local entrepreneurs, community enterprises and various green initiatives.
With an emphasis on improving the quality of life for local communities, initiatives such as Thai Det generate employment and income for local businesspeople by distributing their products at PTT Stations, while encouraging them to raise the profile of their goods and services and expand their distribution channels.
As part of its inclusive business model, the Café Amazon for Chance project supports underprivileged members of the community by training them as baristas and offering employment. It hopes to establish 500 such outlets in the Asia-Pacific by 2027.
OR says these goals serve to ensure the company’s objectives benefit society and the environment, rather than coming at a cost to society and the planet.