Declining demand for watches is pushing C. Thong Panich Co to expand further into the hotel business.
The authorised distributor of Citizen watches will spend 1.5 billion baht to build a hotel in Pattaya this year.
Managing director Vipavan Mahadumrongkul said the five-star Renaissance Pattaya Hotel & Resort is now under construction on a 17-rai plot on Na Jomtien beach in Pattaya.
The low-rise hotel will have 252 rooms and be managed by the Marriott chain. The company plans to open the hotel on Dec 15, 2016.
“We will expand more into the hotel business because Thailand is a major tourism destination in Asean, particularly for Chinese tourists. The number of tourist arrivals will continue to increase after the advent of the Asean Economic Community,” she said.
Apart from the Pattaya project, the company plans to develop three more hotels within the next five years. The company has three land plots in Bangkok and Trat. Phuket and Krabi are also on its business radar.
C.Thong diversified into hotel and office buildings 14 years ago. It now operates the 407-room Swissotel Le Concorde Hotel on Ratchadaphisek Road, which generated 630 million baht last year.
The company also operates two office buildings, Le Concorde Tower next to its Ratchadaphisek hotel and MD Tower on Bang Na-Trat Highway, with a combined rent of 800 million baht last year.
Apart from the hotel sector, C. Thong is looking for opportunities in the food business, which is expected to start after 2017.
Ms Vipavan said the company has earmarked 350 million baht to renovate the Swissotel Le Concorde Hotel this year, which will be completed within two years. Its current occupancy rate is 89%, up from 78% during the same period last year.
“Thailand’s tourism business has already rebounded with bright prospects due to being Asean’s hub,” she said.
With the tourism rebound, watch sales to tourists have increased to 20% so far, up from only 5% last year.
Ms Vipavan said sales of timepieces would grow by 15% to 977 million baht this year. To achieve its goal, the company will launch two to three new Citizen watch collections including the Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100 and Wicca, a new brand under the Citizen umbrella.
C. Thong was appointed distributor for Bulova, a Swiss watch brand, early this year. The company will officially launch Bulova next month. One more Swiss watch brand will be brought to Thailand this year.
The company will spend 120 million baht to promote its watches this year. Of the total, the Citizen brand will account for 30 million baht.
“Thailand is the second biggest market for Citizen after China. Thailand is the only country that may receive an extra budget from Citizen in Japan to promote its watches among foreign tourists this year,” Ms Vipavan said.
Citizen has its own factory on a 30-rai plot in Ayutthaya’s Wang Noi district. Some 70% of output is Citizen watches, excluding the Eco-Drive collection, for export.