Thai retailer readies for mobile phone rush in Myanmar

Thailand’s Jay Mart (JMART), the mobile handset retailer, is tapping the undeveloped telecom market in Myanmar with a plan to open 20 shops there this year.

The move comes after the Myanmar government last Thursday awarded telecom licenses to Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo to provide mobile service.

Chief executive Adisak Sukumvitaya said Jay Mart has already set up three shops in Yangon this year in preparation for the opening of Myanmar’s telecom market.

Through J&P Myanmar, Jay Mart will run the handset retail business in the country.

Mr Adisak said the company has set aside 150 million baht (US$5 million) for expansion in Myanmar in the first year, rising to 750 million in the next two years.

“We expect to realise revenue from the Myanmar business unit in 2014,” he said.

Jay Mart has enjoyed a long partnership with Telenor and its Thai offshoot Total Access Communication (DTAC), which could further strengthen Myanmar business, he said.

Jay Mart expects a net profit of 400 million baht this year for its Thai operating unit, up by 40% from last year.

Revenue is seen rising by 38% to 11 billion baht this year thanks to the commercial launch of third-generation (3G) mobile service on the 2100-megahertz spectrum.

Jay Mart plans to sell 20 million mobile handsets this year, up from 15 million last year. Unit sales are expected to surge to 30 million next year and 40 million in 2015, fuelled by extraordinary growth in smartphone user numbers.

“Thailand records 80 million mobile subscribers, of whom only 20 million use smartphone handsets,” said Mr Adisak.

The big three mobile operators—Advanced Info Service , DTAC and True Move—each expect to have 10 million 3G subscribers this year.

“This will likely increase sales of mobile handsets, especially smartphones,” said the chief executive.

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