For retailers and consumer-goods companies, Vietnam is an attractive market: the economy is growing briskly and sustainably, and the population is adding a million people a year. Even more important, the country’s middle class is growing fast: from 7 million households in 2003 to an estimated 25 million in 2013.
The Vietnamese government estimates that retail sales reached USD39.1 billion in 2009 – almost twice as high as five years earlier. And the country has room to grow: per capita retail sales, at USD450, are among the lowest in Asia. Setting up shop in Vietnam, however, isn’t easy. The market is fragmented and difficult to reach, and although 100 percent foreign-owned retailers can register for an operating license, they are generally allowed to open only one outlet.