BANGKOK, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Thailand's Berli Jucker Pcl said on Tuesday it planned to spend about 10 billion baht ($281 million) in 2017 on opening new stores for hypermarket operator Big C Supercenter and expanding its packaging capacity.
Berli, the retail flagship of Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's TCC Group, completed a $6.2 billion acquisition of Big C in May after winning an offer for French retailer Casino's 58.6 percent stake in February.
Some 80 percent of the budget will be used for Big C's expansion plan in 2017 when it aims to open nine hypermarkets, four Big C Markets and 200 Mini Big C outlets and renovate 42 existing stores, Rami Piirainen, vice president for investor relations, told reporters.
The balance 20 percent will be used for raising the capacity of its packaging business by 10 percent, or 300 tonnes per day, from the current 2,735 tonnes, which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017, he said.
Big C has changed its strategy to focus more on boosting margins and profits and discontinuing unprofitable sales such as cigarette and alcohol products, he said.
Big C posted a 14.6 percent rise in net profit in the third quarter due to improved margins.
Berli also planned to sell up to 20 billion baht of bonds in early December and another 47 billion baht of bonds in 2017 to refinance existing debt and reduce interest expenses, he said.
Berli has debt of about 154 billion baht, of which 67 billion baht comprises bank loans. ($1 = 35.5800 baht) (Reporting by Manunphattr Dhanananphorn and Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Sunil Nair)