As talks continue between international retailers and the Thai government, Tesco has told just-food that it is ‘business as usual’ for its Thai unit.

Major foreign retailers, such as Tesco and Carrefour, have been locked in a row with the government and small retailers since before the Thailand’s military coup of 19 September. Small retailers in the country have been arguing that the expansion of large multinationals should be checked as it is driving them out of business.

Nine large retail chains, including Carrefour, have agreed to freeze expansion plans for the remainder of the month. The French retail group will delay the opening of an outlet in the southern resort of Phuket by two weeks, until the temporary expansion ban ends on 28 October.

Thailand’s Commerce Ministry yesterday (4 October) issued guidelines banning big retailers from “unfair practices”, including “unfairly low prices”. The ministry warned that those who fail to comply could face fines or even prison sentences. 

However, Tesco intends to open four more hypermarkets there before the end of the year, along with about 100 Tesco Express outlets.

“We’re in on-going discussions with the Ministry of Commerce,” Tesco international spokesperson Greg Sage told just-food. “We are continuing as normal at the moment,” he concluded.

Thailand is Tesco’s largest foreign market, where it operates nearly 300 outlets and plans to open 200 more.