Central Group began in 1947 as a small family shop run by Tiang Chirathivat in the city of Bangkok. His son, Samrit Chirathivat, in 1956 expanded the general merchandise business with the establishment of the first Central Department Store in Bangkok’s Wang Burapha district.
Both father and son were fully engaged in running the business, and were helped by other family members. This era was one of bustling trade and growth, and the visionary Tiang and Samrit quickly established businesses that were characterized by many “firsts” in Thailand. They were the first to import international cosmetic brands, the first to focus on customer services, the first to introduce a fixed price tag, the first to utilize barcodes for payment, and the first to institute a loyalty program among Thai retailers.
Under the stewardship of the Chirathivat family, Central Group has grown to become one of Thailand’s most recognizable brands and among the most successful retail conglomerates in Southeast Asia. The Chirathivat vision for the retail business has been passed on from generation to generation. Our expansion into the omni-channel arena has helped to drive our growth and strengthen our leadership position across multiple retail categories.
Our heritage (1947-2018)
Small shophouse opens in Bangkok.
Our importing business begins as Central Trading, which later becomes a part of Central Marketing Group.
The first Central Department Store opens in Wang Burapha district.
The new iconic Central Chidlom flagship store opens.
The lifestyle ZEN Department Store opens and Central Retail Corporation Limited is incorporated.
Our first Central Department Store outside Bangkok opens in Chiang Mai province, signaling our expansion into upcountry Thailand.
We acquire a majority stake in Robinson Department Store.
Launched new specialty format Tops Supermarket - now the largest supermarket chain in Thailand.
Our new specialty formats open, including Power Buy and Super Sports, and we enter into new retail categories.
His Majesty King Rama IX grants Central Department Store the right to use the Royal Garuda Emblem.
- Our first large standalone specialty formats open with Thai Watsadu.
- The first Robinson Lifestyle Center opens in Trang, establishing our model for expansion and penetration in upcountry markets.
Acquisition of the Rinascente collection of luxury department stores in Italy marks our entry into the EU market.
We begin our joint venture for FamilyMart in Thailand.
- Our first webstore, Central.co.th, debuts for Central Department Store.
- Launched new specialty format Baan & Beyond.
We begin joint ventures for Nguyen Kim and Lanchi Mart in Vietnam.
We acquire Big C in Vietnam.
Our new digitally assisted shopping platforms such as Rinascente ON DEMAND and Chat & Shop are launched.
We launch our Big C rebranding with the first GO! retail banner for hypermarkets in Vietnam as part of our expansion strategy.