Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’

Explaining the Global Consulting Project

January 31, 2012

The more observant readers of this blog may have noticed that I blabber on about Thailand every January (see here, here, here, here and here for examples).

I travel to Bangkok each year to supervise 20 lucky (and talented) students who work intensively on ‘real’ company projects.  It’s a fantastic learning opportunity for all involved (including me). It also highlights something that is coming through in my current research – that hands-on experience matters in terms of how managers frame the very complex decisions they confront in international arenas (You’ll see more on this in coming months on the blog).

So, you could say I’m ‘shaping the minds’ of future business leaders! Alarming I know.

Here’s some more on what we were doing in Bangkok (a story I wrote for the Aust-Thai Chamber of Commerce magazine  – see pages 5-9) – just click on the picture:

Global Consulting Project University of Melbourne Bangkok Thailand

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Anyone see a 7-Eleven around?

January 16, 2012

I’m here in Bangkok for my annual supervision of the Global Consulting Project.

And again, I have been struck by the ubiquity of 7-Elevens in this city.  On the relatively quiet street of our hotel there are four branches of said store within a stretch of about 250 metres, including two pretty much directly across the (narrow) road from each other.  Just 400m in the other direction there are another three stores in a 60m stretch.

This obviously generates lots of discussion. One student said he’d seen similar density in Taiwan.  That got me searching for some data to check out which locations in the world have the most of these stores per person.

And here’s what I found.  In terms of population per 7-Eleven store (i.e. national population/number of stores), Thailand is in the top five globally (with ‘top’ meaning not many folks per store, or, put differently, the most stores per person):

I included Australia, simply for illustrative purposes.  We’re a fair way down the ranks (see here for the lengthier store count list – the US (c6,500 is missing)). The table identifies what appears to be the ‘natural home’ of the convenience store – densely populated urban centres around Asia.

For those who have missed the back story, 7-Eleven originated from the US, but was bought out globally by the firm’s Japanese master franchisee almost 25 years ago.

Japan had a pretty big head start on Thailand (opening in 1974, versus 1989 for Thailand), but Thailand is catching up fast.  I saw an estimate that there are over 3,000 stores in Bangkok, which equates to about one store for every 4,000 residents in this megacity (and comfortably defeating city state Singapore).

The Thai franchisee is doing something right, with profits reportedly up fivefold in three years. No wonder there’s talk said firm is chasing the franchise rights for Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar (and also some regions of China!).

I do start to wonder how far such expansion within a given city can go.  Could we eventually see a Bangkok headline like this one (mocking Starbucks’ rapid growth)?

These two stores are within 50 metres of each other in Silom, Bangkok

Thai Latte please

January 28, 2011

A few months back I made some noise on here about the scope for Australia to leverage a barista advantage internationally.

The argument was that our wide brown land was at the cutting edge of the ‘third wave’ of fancy coffee-making (and by fancy, I’m not talking about the Franken-coffees dreamed up by Starbucks for people who like whipping cream, flavoured syrup and milk rather than roasted bean-infused goodness).

Having spent the last fortnight in Bangkok, I can say there may well be considerable competitive advantage for the Aussie approach a few steps back from the leading edge also.

After enduring the overpriced faux coffee of the aforementioned US giant out of desperation, and the abomination that is my hotel’s brew, I followed a tip from an Aussie and headed to a little café run by some locals who’d lived and worked in Melbourne (reportedly).

Café Ohana is doing no more than what your standard Melbourne coffee vendors does, i.e. latte, macchiato etc. They deliver it in a slick Scando-decored venue, with tasty sandwiches and a mix of cakes, but it’s not anything amazingly groundbreaking.  But it felt like an oasis to me, and seemed to be a happy haunt for numerous Japanese ladies who lunch.

It must being doing well, as the firm is about to open another branch (according to their Facebook page).

It’s a reminder that international  transfer of competitive advantages doesn’t always have to be lead with the fanciest, most innovative version of your product.  Indeed, sometime it pays to tone down the radicalness so as to find a receptive audience.

Now if only I could find a purveyor of quality craft beers around here too…