Fox On Friday: New Dusit CEO Suphajee Suthumpun

An extract from the current issue of the People-in-Travel (PinT) monthly-report .


Suphajee Suthumpun, 52, is the new CEO of Bangkok-based Dusit International, only the third CEO since the company was founded, with a hotel in Bangkok, 67 years ago.


Suphajee is the first CEO from outside of the founding family, although the son of the founder and previous CEO, Chanin Donavanik, will still be very-much around. He is now vice chairman (his mother is chairman) and chairman of the executive committee.


Suphajee was four years CEO at Thaicom* and before that 23 years at IBM Thailand. Although there were no major developments during her time at Thaicom, but its operating profit grew comfortably – from US$36.7mn (at US$1 to B36.3) in 2012, to US$45.8mn 2013, US$63.2mn 2014, US$76.1mn 2015 – albeit doing no more than matching revenue growth.


In contrast, DI has not published its 2015 results, but earlier years were good. Operating profits were at a similar level to Thaicom – US$58.9mn in 2012, US$68.0mn 2013, US$65.3mn 2014 – although net profit was not so impressive.


DI says Suphajee’s “long-term vision” emphasises staff development, technological advancement, strategic management. We would have thought all these should be short-term actions – but her short-term plans are not given.


Her task is not easy. DI has 26 hotels and 40 projects. 80% of its revenue is from Thailand, but it is working to get this closer to 50%. Earlier, it made a disastrous foray overseas in buying about 40% of the Kempinski hotel group in 1994 – and which seemed to us a good fit. But that fell apart in 1998; since 2004, the Thailand Crown Property Bureau has owned most of Kempinski.


DI has a manageable four brands but they are not clearly defined – we see 4-star Dusit Thani and Dusit Devarana at the same level, Dusit Princess not obviously a 3-star brand, Dusit D2 2-maybe-3-star but ‘trendy’ ‘minimalist’.


And DI also has property development and education/training divisions. Its work in education seems sensible and good, but there are three different units! The Dusit Thani College (culinary and hospitality management), Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School, Dusit Thani Hotel School (based on Asean’s proto “common competency standards for tourism professionals”).


DI shows no profit-and-loss data for these two divisions – simply a US$14.6mn +12.4% revenue total for education in 2014. DI’s property activity is primarily hotel ownership.


*Notes: Thaicom is the name of some communications satellites and the abbreviated name of Thaicom Public Company Limited, which owns and operates the satellites and other telecommunication businesses in Thailand and outside. Thaicom has or has had various links with businesses owned by a former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, dismissed after one of a few coups in Thailand over the past 10 years.


The Fox

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