AEON Mall Long Bien. (Photo: aeonmall-long-bien.com.vn)
Hanoi (VNA) - A recent flurry of foreign retailer activity has raised an alarm among domestic peers.

Under commitments to the World Trade Organisation, Vietnam opened its retail market in 2009. The sector has witnessed waves of international capital ever since with big names such as Metro Cash&Carry, Big C and Lotte.

Most recently, French retailer Auchan is schedule to sign a lease on the MIPEC Long Bien Shopping Mall on November 3, paving the way for the conglomerate to gain a foothold in the Hanoi market.

As such, Auchan’s Simply Mart, covering 3,700 square metres, will become operational in 2016, supplying up to 4,500 household articles. It will open in conjunction with the MIPEC Riverside project, where the mall is located.

By 2020 there will be 20 Simply Marts across the north, said CEO Gilbert Infantes, a member of Auchan’s executive board.

In the south, the firm has worked with local C.T Group to develop the S-Mart chain and is preparing to expand its Simply Mart empire in 2016.

A week earlier, Japanese retailer Aeon also opened a 120,000-square-metre mall in Long Bien after the successful operation of similar supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City and southern Binh Duong province.

Aeon Chairman Yukio Konishi said the company aimed to build about 20 malls in Vietnam, investing approximately 1 billion USD in the country.

Meanwhile, in July, US-based Seven Eleven Inc., a subsidiary of the Japanese retail conglomerate Seven & I Holdings, signed a contract with IFB Vietnam, owner of the Pizza Hut restaurant chain in Vietnam, to open its first store in Ho Chi Minh City. The number of the establishments is set to reach 100 after three years and 1,000 after 10 years.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment said in a recent report that most Vietnamese businesses engaging in the retail market were small and had low competitiveness. They were facing high risks of being taken over by foreign peers.

Thai Berli Jucker Corporation (BJC) acquired Phu Thai Group and its Family Mart in 2013, while Aeon owns shares in two renowned domestic chains - Citimart and Fivimart.

Vingroup, however, is taking the lead in expanding shares in the home market with 125 stores and 12 shopping centres as of October. The group intends to put 40 malls into operation in 2016 and 100 in 2020. Other healthy local retailers include Co.op Mart and Fivimart.-VNA