• BC Driving Growth with Diversification and Synergistic Approach

Boutique Corporation PCL (SET: BC) President and Group CEO, Mr. Prabsharan Singh Thakral provided an admirable interview regarding his business strategy after Covid-19, diversification and embracing digital technology is the strategic approach for Boutique Corporation to remain resilient.

1. Against a challenging business environment significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, what’s your view toward the Thai hospitality and commercial industry this year and in 2023?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the major challenges for Thailand’s beauty industry and our company. We must refine our strategies and business plans to cope with the ever-changing market and rapidly changing consumer behavior.

Regarding the long-term strategy, we aim to increase our top line to 3,000 million baht by 2026. Our focus remains on beauty and health products, such as skincare, makeup, hair color, and food supplements, which align with the company’s vision and mission: To be Asia’s leading beauty and health company by creating the best innovation to fulfil everyone’s demand and inspiring people across Thailand and Asia.

2. Against a challenging business environment significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, what’s your view toward the Thai hospitality and commercial industry this year and in 2023?
This year, we begin to see a recovery in tourism, with approximately 10 million tourists coming into the country. We see India as a large component of tourists coming to the country, with about 1 million travellers forecast for the end of this year. We see, toward the end of next year, perhaps the normalization of tourism in this country. But, of course, we also have to wait until China opens up for tourism.

Meanwhile, we should look for other opportunities instead of focusing on China. These whole few years have taught us that we should begin to penetrate new markets. Currently, we have an excellent new market like Saudi coming in. We should focus on and harness the demand from other large markets like India so that our economy relies on something different than a single market like China. Our marketing activities for tourist companies or Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT) should bear that in mind as we come out of Covid.

3. As the property development company, how has Covid impacted your business, and how is it currently going?
Yes, our main business is building property for existence. That continues during Covid. We were very successful last year in existing an asset in Sukhumvit Soi 23 at the pre-covid valuation. We have just completed Oakwood Sukhumvit Soi 36, a hotel by the Thong lor BTS station, opening on the first of October. Even before its first month of full operation, we had a buyer coming and signing a sale agreement with us, buying it at the valuation as well. This business continues.

However, the industry and, of course, Boutique Corporation were affected by the disrupted cash flow coming through the hotel. So, Covid has been a learning for many business leaders. One of the things I saw to undertake during Covid was to embrace diversification, ensuring that after Covid, we would have multiple business lines that have synergistic approaches with our current business.

4. Boutique corporation has expanded the ecosystem into logistics and healthcare. How have they turned out so far?
The first business we decided to expand into was cannabis and wellness associated with cannabis. From growing our high medical-grade cannabis to the dispensary, we are ultimately the country’s first fully licensed value-chain cannabis key provider. We currently have two dispensaries, the first one at Sukhumvit Soi 16, in one of our properties. So, this is the synergistic approach. And here, at the Summer Point Mall, our second dispensary, which represents our wellness concept. We can issue a prescription for oil and cannabis medicine based on traditional Thai formulas. As a result, the cannabis-related healthcare business is one of the diversifications we undertook to ensure that we, as a company, are sustainable and more resilient.

5. What are your key strategies for the next year?
For cannabis, we see solid sales in our dispensaries, high demand for premium-grade and high-quality medical-grade cannabis dry flowers, and an increase in repeat customers who enjoy the quality and comfort of our pure and toxin-free cannabis. In addition, we are confident in our products and service because they were all tasted by the ministry of health. Ultimately, we aim to accelerate our rollout and expand the business to 20 outlets within the following year.

The second diversification we recently undertook is a self-storage and the logistics of door-to-door delivery from storage. Again, the business is new and has just opened this month. And we already begin to see good demand for self-storage. So, we aim to drive growth in this unit as well.

And, of course, we do foresee that hospitality will come back, so we continue to develop assets for the existing. Next year we are looking at developing Sukhumvit Soi 5, one of our pipeline’s assets. We are preparing to establish another retail development on Charoenkrung road, in front of the Shrewsbury International School. And other projects that we have in our pipeline.

6. Amid the growing digital economy, how has it affected your company?
There are two aspects of the digital economy and how it affects the company. One is how we apply digital technology at work, and two is embracing it within our businesses. For the former, the way we work, such as working from home and using online platforms for a meeting. We all have already familiar with the technology and work in a hybrid way. We ensure that our company is tech-savaged enough to embrace that.

However, what is more important is how we embrace new technology to create a synergistic effect with our business. Hence, in February this year, we launched our first NFTs linking to cannabis. They were limited and connected to every single seed plant we grew on our cannabis farm. Buyers of these NFTs effectively received a utility over our cannabis platform, either to get discounts or special access. This exemplifies how we synergize emerging technology like blockchain with our businesses. So, we also corporate those synergistic approaches with our other business units, such as hospitality, real estate, and self-storage, that we are expanding right now.

7. How do you envision your business in 5 years? How have you embraced the sustainability concept?
Despite the Covid situation, building and selling assets continues to have good demand, especially in a good location. In October, we opened our first third-party-managed hotel under our brand “Jono”, which is in Karon beach, Phuket. So, we will drive and grow this business exponentially. For the sustainability part, over the next five years, we will continue to ramp up the growth of our cannabis outlet across the Thai market, mainly tourists, ex-pats, and the high entire. We will also grow our self-storage, logistics, and hospitality business. So, there are many opportunities that we can diversify our ecosystem, create synergistic approaches, and remain resilient.

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