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An apocalypse for prices is the likely result of the SuperCheap blaze

Five-Star Phuket Will Feel Economic Pain As Prices Become SuperCheap No Longer

Thursday, October 17, 2013
News Analysis Plus Photo Album Above

PHUKET: Shelves where fresh fruit and vegetables usually sit for sale in SuperCheap convenience store outlets all over Phuket were looking bare today.

The burning of the iconic central SuperCheap headquarters hub in Phuket City overnight leaves the island's poor and underprivileged wondering where to shop.

Everybody used to scratch their heads at how the local brand did it, but SuperCheap pared its margins to the minimum and actually thrived on competition when the big brands tackled its Phuket toehold.

The secret lay in SuperCheap growing much of their own food and slashing other costs to the minimum. As a result, the huge tin sheds that made up the Phuket City headquarters remained quirky and unadorned.

Down the aisles there you could count on finding the cheapest food and any item that you couldn't find everywhere else on Phuket was bound to be found somewhere in the tin maze.

Observers could see the potential for disaster in the ramshackle anarchy but if lower prices for people resulted, not many on Phuket ever complained too loudly.

While it's good news for the owner that the building and its contents were covered for 620 million baht in insurance, the economy of Phuket is bound to suffer.

Attracting five-star tourists from all over the globe is just one result of the remarkable Phuket economy, which sustains thousands of low-paid legal and illegal Thai and Burmese workers.

They keep the tourism treadmill turning.

Deprive them of their jobs, as appears to be the case with 3000 who will be immediately affected by the razing of the amazing SuperCheap headquarters, and entire family networks will suffer.

Stop the regular supply of truly supercheap food to the network of about 25 SuperCheap 24-hour stores around Phuket, and every low-paid worker and every low-paid workers' family on the island will suffer.

While expats welcomed the arrival of Tesco followed by other big retail outlets on the island, it has been the continuity provided by the amazing SuperCheap local brand that has prevented the Phuket cost of living - already the highest in Thailand - from soaring through the roof.

Now there is no roof at SuperCheap, only the smoking sky.

And the consequences?

Everybody on Phuket will be affected, from the most extreme poor through to the five-star rich, even those who in normal circumstances would never dream of dropping by at SuperCheap.

The blaze that brought quirky Phuket shopping under tin at SuperCheap to a sudden end means costs will inevitably rise, just like the smoke.

Help for Blaze Victims

PEOPLE who wish to help victims of the SuperCheap blaze are advised to call either of the following numbers:

076 218444 076 212047


Comments have been disabled for this article.


very sad

Posted by Sean on October 17, 2013 10:22


Let's hope that some of that 620 million baht will compensate all families involved. A sad story indeed

Posted by tbs on October 17, 2013 11:03


While the immediate effect of this disaster is serious enough the far reaching and long term consequences will be very damaging.

Posted by Sudo Nim on October 17, 2013 12:15


Supercheap has shown that it has a business model that works, they expanded very fast and will probably be able to continue this expansion. In the meantime the while the business is down here then they will push to increase sales at the satellite shops and the rest of the slack will be taken up by the other big providers like Tesco and BigC . So there will be no apocalypse of prices. According to the media Supercheap was insured for a large amount, no insurance company would take on such a big coverage without making a risk analysis for the property. Hopefully the insurance also covers for staff and customers.

Posted by Sailor on October 17, 2013 12:36


Sailor, all the small restaurants you see dotted all over the place probably do not get their supplies from Tesco/Big C. If they have to now then, prices will go up. Just a thought...

Posted by Sudo Nim on October 17, 2013 13:01


Supercheap has shown that the big retailers charge more than they need to do so. Supercheap is not greedy.
This is a tragic accident, the big retailers will now be able to charge even more in Phuket for sure but hopefully Supercheap will be able to rebound and continue to serve the community in Phuket as it has in such a selfless manner in the previous few years

Posted by Anonymous on October 17, 2013 14:14


Why are you reporting that it was only the poor that shopped at this great store. You obviously never stepped foot in there or else you would realise that there were a great number of expats and quite wealthy Thais who chose to do their shopping there. Yes a vast number were lower paid but you could tell by the look of some shoppers that they were not by any means poor. I use to shop there too and i am not poor i just choose to support local businesses rather than capitalist companies who plan to take over wherever they can. By saying the poor shopped there you are not only insulting me but a large number of others who chose to shop there!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by phuket madness on October 17, 2013 14:43

Editor Comment:

We didn't report anything of the kind, phuket madness. Your ability to read what's not there is, fortunately, not widespread. You're insulting yourself because of your own warped interpretation. Find something serious to say, or don't bother.


So what does this say??
leaves the island's poor and underprivileged wondering where to shop.
I too wonder where to shop as i don't believe in filling the pockets of companies such as Tesco! Read your own article before you start insulting me Alan Morison,you try to belittle anybody who questions your writing but you are just a fool and i'm sure you know it's not only me who thinks this.

Posted by phuket madness on October 17, 2013 15:03

Editor Comment:

We didn't make SuperCheap Phuket Business of the Year because we wanted to insult the brand. But some of its customers? If you make such wild misjudgements, phuket madness, to reinforce your moniker, why would I or anyone else care what you think? Your false and foolish interpretations are the problem, not the words. You can't see past your own nose, poor thing.


"Supercheap has shown that the big retailers charge more than they need to do so. Supercheap is not greedy."

Let's not forget that Supercheap was, at least partly, able to charge the prices they did because of the state of their 'supercenter'.
Nothing wrong with that, I shopped there myself on occasion, but to pretend Supercheap was a lighting example is at least on certain aspects not correct.

Posted by stevenl on October 17, 2013 15:22


I didn't know the background of SC. Learning now, that it is a local business, that has risen to the sky, battling big international companies, surprises me. Whoever was able to think and do big like that, will do it again. Phoenix style.

Posted by phoe on October 17, 2013 16:00


At your age and with what you write i believe you can't see past your own eyelashes, poor thing!
You're well past your sell by date my friend!

Posted by phuket madness on October 17, 2013 16:41

Editor Comment:

I am not your friend, phuket madness, and unless you have something of value to add in future, you will struggle to contribute again.


@phuket madness, I think you are getting on your high horse without reason. I too used to shop at supercheap on occasion and I am not poor, neither am I offended by the article or its tone. The point I think the editor was making, is you and I have a choice where to shop, some others are less fortunate and were dependent on this outlet.

I would hope for the benefit of the less fortunate, someone from central government, or local government intervenes to seek support for stability in food pricing from all the other major Supermarkets.

I sincerely hope the owners are able to rebuild, what surely was a real Phuket institution.

Posted by terry on October 17, 2013 16:48


"Attracting five-star tourists from all over the globe is just one result of the remarkable Phuket economy, which sustains thousands of low-paid legal and illegal Thai and Burmese workers."

WTF does that mean??

"ramshackle anarchy" ??

"only the smoking sky" - Presumably the sky is smokey, not smoking, or we are in deep trouble...

Seems like the editor need an editor...

Posted by matt on October 17, 2013 19:32

Editor Comment:

Either that, matt, or the reader needs a brain. We generally don't tolerate the use of the sly WTF because it's an indication of lack of civility. It's also the clear policy here for commenters to add value, not nit-pick for nit-picking's sake. WTF, you're a constant offender. Goodbye, matt.


I feel very Sad what have Happen. I hope the death toll will remain at Zero.
This was an Amazing store and a Institution in Phuket. If you could not find something in any other store in Phuket, you could find it in Super Cheap. I hope the owners family will have the Strength to build it up again. Of Course it will never be the same "Super Cheap" but I hope they can make a similar one, just more safe. I wish them Good Luck and Look forward to shop in the new Super Cheap.

Posted by Mj on October 17, 2013 20:12


The best thing that could've happened to the place as long as there were no fatalities. I've often looked into the roof there and been amazed why the place has not burnt down before. Perhaps it's time to look at other buildings safety requirements as there are many others in Phuket that would fail. The answer to Matt's question is that usually, only people of low intelligence use terms such as WTF, LOL and LMFAO. You're probably too scared to write the full meaning don't bother.

Posted by Mac on October 17, 2013 20:34


It has been brought up how the cessation of the social security paid on 3000 plus workers will also effect the economy negatively.

Posted by Horse Doctor on October 17, 2013 21:21


@Ed, a very "strange" comment, you made to Matt, you condemn him, and rightfully so, for using 3 letters, but you used the same 3 letters. I am wondering, and I suspect others might, why it is not ok for Matt but ok for you.

Posted by DSI Watcher on October 18, 2013 08:52

Editor Comment:

I was responding to matt in kind in the hope that he - and others - might see how pathetic the use of the letters really is. Try to imagine me pulling matt by the shirt collar and saying up close, ''WTF, matt.'' Irony, it's called. And it's not banned yet. Of course, we remain opposed to bad language and physical or verbal violence. We are sure matt will see his error and behave from now on.


What does one need to do in order to get an opinion about the poor hygiene level at SuperCheap published ?

No negative comments allowed about the " Business of the Year " ?

I have pictures to back up what I wrote.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 18, 2013 09:13

Editor Comment:

Hindsight is the easiest of options, Thai Mike. Unlike you, we take no joy in the store being burned to the ground, throwing 3500 people out of work.
Who cares now about your silly photographs? Only you, Mr Right in Hindsight.
If you has questions about our award to SuperCheap, you should have raised them when the award was made - several years ago.

Try living in the present, please. And grow a heart.

Tuesday October 27, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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