According to Nikkei Asia the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with lower barriers to foreign investment, have created what AEON sees as its chance to reach more Vietnamese consumers.
The group plans to open 100 or so of its MaxValu supermarkets in Viet Nam by 2025, up from just four in the Ha Noi area now.
“The retail group faces few large foreign-owned competitors in the capital, where wet markets would draw crowds with fresh meat, fish and produce,” Nikkei Asia commented.
Viet Nam is the most important market for the retail giant’s overseas strategy, the newspaper quoted Okazaki Soichi, the executive in charge of the group's Southeast Asian business, as saying.
These vendors are now seeing shoppers stay away after a rash of COVID-19 outbreaks in big Vietnamese cities this year.
AEON will add bigger stores with 500 sq.m or more of floor space in its expansion.
In its pursuit of scale, AEON will chase Vietnamese supermarket leader Masan Group and Thailand's Central Group, which operates 230 stores.
AEON is not the only Japanese group with an eye on Southeast Asian consumers.
Trading house Sumitomo Corp plans to open more locations of Japanese-style supermarket chain FujiMart in Viet Nam with local conglomerate BRG Group. FujiMart has three locations in Ha Noi.
In addition, the operator of the Don Don Donki store chain, Pan Pacific International Holdings, aims to increase its overseas sales to one trillion yen (US$8.72 billion) by the year ending June 2030, about six times last fiscal year's level.
For its part, convenience store operator FamilyMart has expanded into five Southeast Asian countries, tailoring its product lineup to local needs and tastes.
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