Thailand is one of Tesco’s largest operations. Tesco entered in 1998, and trades as Tesco Lotus. Tesco has been expanding rapidly in Thailand and is now the largest supermarket chain in Thailand. It has more than 1,400 stores and is planning to open another 350 in 2013.
However, the company is also the second largest shopping centre developer in the country. Twenty-two of its centres have been spun off into a separate listed property fund. Tesco’s total floorspace in Thailand is the 2nd highest after the UK, at just under 13 million sq ft, and Tesco is the largest international retailer in Thailand. Its stores vary between different formats, with a large number of both hypermarkets and Express format stores, and an average store size of around 12,000 sq - more similar to the UK than Tesco's other Asian operations are. Tesco’s smaller stores compete directly with Thailand’s traditional fresh markets. In March 2012, Tesco announced that it would expand its operations in Thailand at a cost $228m.
However, Tesco together with the other major retail chains, has fallen foul of the Thai government. Following a lobby by small shopkeepers, the government announced in September 2006 that it would introduce regulations to protect small shops, and would block retail expansion till the new legislation came in. After lobbying for this freeze to be lifted, Tesco agreed to it in November 2006. In May 2007 Thailand's government agreed new legislation to curb supermarket growth. Read an article from February 2007 about the development of Thailand's supermarket regulation. In March 2008 Tesco brought legal proceedings against a Thai MP who had criticised Tesco - see a Guardian article. This case was dismissed by the Court.