The BBC, the Telegraph and the Bangkok Post, among others, are carrying “crack-down” stories that highlight potential restrictions on Tesco and other foreign retailers in Thailand. Before the coup, I wrote about the uncertain position of large international retailers, particularly those seeking to open dozens of new stores in the far-flung corners of the Kingdom. The mega-store conglomerates were already under some pressure before the recent change to military leadership.
In the context of their many other “tough love” measures, it would make sense if the military regime was to now clamp down on foreign retailers, including Tesco. Bigger, better and more extravagant shopping “experiences” may even, in some (soldierly) eyes, symbolise the excesses and waste of the Thaksin era.
But would this be the death rattle for the nation’s love affair with air-conditioned mega-stores, whether foreign or locally owned?
I doubt it, I really do.
Tesco, and all the rest, have now outwitted, outplayed and outlasted both the Chuan and Thaksin governments. One would imagine they will outlive the military junta as well. Thais still love Tesco, even if Thaksin is on the nose. The retail revolution has been underway for almost a decade. It would take some unusual political will, and the risk of a popular backlash, to stand in its way.