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Thailand's Retail Empress

A growing number of women in Southeast Asia are blazing trails in the business world.

In the second installment of a two-part series, NHK WORLD's Kyoko Fujita spoke with the leader of a business empire in Thailand.

Chadatip Chutrakul is the CEO of Siam Piwat, one of Thailand's largest retail developers. She succeeded her father, who founded the firm. He built the nation's first modern shopping center in the 1970s. Chadatip has worked hard to stay ahead of the curve.

"Customers' behaviors are changing every day. So the stores, shopping malls cannot stay the same. Therefore, it's our policy to renovate our shopping malls actually every few years."
Chadatip Chutrakul / CEO, Siam Piwat

This shopping center underwent a facelift 2 years ago. Chadatip had to persuade 200 well-known international and local brands with shops here to make some changes as well.

These included creating sales floors unlike those at their other stores, and releasing products at the center before offering them anywhere else in Thailand. She also required tenants to come up with products which would be sold exclusively at this mall. The shopping mall business is booming in Thailand. Tourism and growing personal wealth are attracting investors. Chadatip believes originality is the key to beating the competition.

"The whole building has to have its own character like a person who has a heart and a soul, clearly defined, because nowadays every shopping mall mostly looks the same. Our philosophy is to create a place that inspires people and makes them happy."
Chadatip Chutrakul / CEO, Siam Piwat

Chadatip says a childhood experience in Tokyo helped shape her business philosophy. When she was about 5 years old, her mother took her to one of the city's most luxurious department stores.

"I bought something and it took a long time for the girl to wrap in a very tiny gift package that looked really, really good that I didn't want to open it when I got back home. That is a very good example for me to set our services in our shopping mall and department store. To be something which is really impressive and very much into detail just to show that we care."
Chadatip Chutrakul / CEO, Siam Piwat

She's trying to recreate that kind of experience and develop a new landmark in South East Asia. Chadatip is building a complex in Bangkok that will include high-end residences and stores. The project will involve the largest private investment in the country's history. It's scheduled to open in 2017.

Now Chadatip is working with the managers of the department store she visited all those years ago. She's asked them to open a store in the new complex.

"We want to establish a world-class store that we can be proud of. I will offer the best products from Japan and the rest of the world."
Yutaka Yamaguchi / Managing Director, Siam Takashimaya

Chadatip says the complex will attract wealthy shoppers not just from Thailand, but from neighboring countries as well. She believes it will become the foremost retail destination in Southeast Asia.

"We're surrounded and connected by land with so many emerging countries...they are new destinations of foreign investment as well. So, because of what Thailand has been and what we are today, I still believe that we have more advantage than other countries in ASEAN to grow more and to become one of the leaders of this area."
Chadatip Chutrakul / CEO, Siam Piwat

This innovative business leader is enthusiastic about the future of retail, and she hopes her iconic new project will offer shoppers an unforgettable experience.

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