Will Americans Join Vietnam’s Rush to Retailing?

Global retailers are cultivating Vietnam, destined to be one of the world’s most promising markets, but American companies are mostly on the sidelines of the competition for the loyalty of 100 million future shoppers.

A fierce retailing battle is shaping up this year as Takashimaya of Singapore, Aeon of Japan, and WTC of Malaysia announced they will develop projects competing with 20 international retail ventures already challenging domestic retailers in Vietnam.

Earlier this month, Takashimaya announced it will rent 150,000 square feet of retailing area in five floors of Saigon Centre.  Aeon, anticipating Vietnam will become an Asian hub, plans 20 retail centers in the country, starting with a $100 million investment in Ho Chi Minh City.  WCT Group committed $600 million to develop the Platinum Plaza shopping mall, also HCM City.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s E-Mart is in a joint venture with Vietnam’s U&I Group to open a chain of 52 supermarkets, and Japan’s Mitsukoshi Isetan also is considering business in Vietnam.

Until recently, Vietnam’s retail market was dominated by Walmart-like retailers Big C, based in Thailand, and Vietnam’s own Co.op Mart — but you can’t shop at Target-, Best Buy-, Home Depot-Vietnam, or the world’s largest retailer itself, because they aren’t there yet.

More on retailing in Vietnam

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