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Thai vid chain expands

Tsutaya offers both rental and sale copies

BANGKOK — Although piracy accounts for at least 50% of the homevideo market in Thailand, retailer Tsutaya is planning to expand from 200 outlets to 300 next year, with as many as 800 by 2009.

A franchisee of a Japanese chain, Tsutaya is convinced legitimate business will grow dramatically as the price gap narrows between licensed and pirated product. Its stores offer both rental and sale copies and stress friendly service, promotions and exclusive titles.

Comprising 15 owned-and-operated outlets and 185 run by franchisees, the chain attracts 120,000 customers a day.

Tsutaya dwarfs Blockbuster, which has 23 stores. Blockbuster franchisee Sun Master is mulling a merger with BNT Entertainment, a publicly listed home entertainment distrib. If that happens, Sun Master will be able to raise funds for expansion.

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