Elaine Watson
Tesco has defended its trading practices in Thailand after another round of meetings with government officials.
Executives from Tesco Lotus and Makro met Thai deputy commerce minister Newin Chidchob on Wednesday to give evidence to a sub-committee about its dealings with suppliers.
Rivals Casino (Big C) and Carrefour will be called in for similar discussions on July 1.
A Tesco spokesman said the discussions would not necessarily prompt legal action from government.
"The government has a very clear understanding of what we are doing for consumers as well as our work with the local supply base," he added.
The government's initial definitions of what constitutes unfair trading practices, such as asking for listing fees, and passing transport and marketing costs onto suppliers were "standard practice the world over," he said.
The government recently formed a group to leverage the buying power of small retailers and purchase goods more cheaply.
Further tightening of the planning regime is also expected along with restrictions on opening hours for hypermarket operators.
However, Tesco insisted the moves would not stymie its progress in Thailand, where it has already secured planning permission for most of the stores it wants to build in the next couple of years.
"We've got to keep things in perspective," added the spokesman.
The next project in Thailand ­ a testbed for new retail formats ­ is a new value store, he revealed.
"We haven't finalised the details, but it will be designed for up country sites, outside Bangkok and the big cities, in the less wealthy areas of the country."
l See Spotlight, p36

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