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This story appears in the July 2022 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia
This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of Thailand’s Richest 2022. See the full list here.
Soaring demand for smart devices during the pandemic powered the wealth of Com7 cofounder and vice chairman Sura Khanittaweekul, who debuts on this year’s list with a $670 million fortune. Improvements in stock management—coupled with more pop-up stores and expanded services like hire-purchase loans—pushed up earnings at the Bangkok-based IT retailer, one of the biggest distributors of Apple products in Thailand. First-quarter net profit jumped by over a third to 782.1 million baht ($22.4 million) from a year earlier, on a 23% increase in revenue to 14.6 billion baht.
Pisut Ngamvijitvong, a senior equity research analyst at Bangkok-based Kasikorn Securities, sees continued growth in 2022, projecting net profit will rise 8% to 2.9 billion baht from a year earlier and a 15% uptick in revenue to 59 billion baht. “We believe that Com7 is in the good position to gain market share from smaller retailers. Also, we think Apple products are for high-end customers, which are typically immune from the sluggish economy,” Pisut says by email.
Longer term, Com7 plans to diversify its business to ease its dependency on the U.S. tech giant. In April, Com7 partnered with a subsidiary of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services—the largest private hospital operator in Thailand owned by billionaire Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth—to launch a chain of drug stores in shopping malls this year. A month later the company subscribed to a 3.6% stake of Bangkok-based fintech Sabuy Technology, in exchange for a 40% stake in Com7 distribution subsidiary Double7, to reach more customers.
Sura, who studied finance in the U.S., opened his first store at Pantip Plaza, Bangkok’s electronics mall, in 1996. Com7 now operates over 1,000 outlets under brands BaNANA and Studio7.