What is the current structure of Fico Corporation and Evolution Capital?
SRICHAWLA: Evolution Capital, before it was taken over by Fico Corporation, had a very good management team. We will continue to work with this management team and their expertise. Evolution will move its head office to Fico Corporation’s new building, and we will be able to work together very closely to achieve economies of scale. Evolution should have the biggest gain from this. Fico can add a lot of value to Evolution. On the food side, Fico will continue to manage the food portfolio. We found that this is the best way to grow the company on both sides. Fico Corporation will do whatever it takes to grow. We are quite energetic. We do not want to focus on only one business. We are open to opportunities. We will see a lot of new business lines. We are looking into some new ventures.
Fico Corporation is planning to open 40-50 new hotels in Southeast Asia over the next 5 years. Which markets are you planning to get into?
SRICHAWLA: Fico Hotels will now also include hotels opened through Evolution Capital, which would be the budget hotels that are already in 5 countries. We will be growing into 3 other countries. Our aim is to reach 80 hotels in the next 3 years in the budget sector. Fico Corporation is concentrated on non-budget hotels that are more service oriented, five-star quality, and towards the upper class. We are looking into opportunities within Southeast Asia. We are looking into new markets. We do not have any such plan as to how many we would like to build. As far as Evolution is concerned, we have a clear plan to reach 80 hotels. Fico Corporation will continue to look for new opportunities. We have been looking at growing countries. Everyone has been talking about Myanmar and other markets like Indonesia. I think Southeast Asian markets, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, have the strongest growth potential at the moment in terms of tourism and their economy, even in comparison to Thailand. I think we will be looking at those markets. Fico Corporation will also be looking beyond Asia into other parts of the world, such as Europe and the United States. The strongest growth forecast for traveling is in the budget sector. I think that should be our strongest focus in Asia.
How would you describe the state of the hospitality sector in Thailand?
SRICHAWLA: It has been very unfortunate that we have had many events over the last 5 years that have given us a bad forecast. 2012 and onwards has shown everyone what we can expect in the future. In terms of hospitality and the competition, there is a lot of supply in the market. Due to the events of the past 5 years, the supply has increased but the demand has not. Now we are trying to take away the increase. We are not enjoying the returns on investment for hotels at the moment. We do foresee improvement in the next few years. The demand will increase. The future is bright. At the moment, it is still very competitive in Thailand.
I think Southeast Asian markets, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, have the strongest growth potential at the moment in terms of tourism and their economy, even in comparison to Thailand.