Thai Union: The Making of a World-Leading Seafood Company

Case Solution

Baleji S. Chakravarthy, Pallivathukkal Cherian Abraham
IMD ()

Thai Union has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1977 as a Thai supplier of private label canned tuna to American importers. In four short decades, it had grown to become one of the world’s leading seafood companies, with sales of $ 3.8 billion in 2016. Thiraphong Chansiri, the CEO, had brilliantly turned Thai Union into a true multinational, Operating on three continents, it supplied value-added branded products for multiple species of fish and sold them in ambient, chilled and frozen conditions. The company planned to double its sales to $ 8 billion by 2020 while increasing its gross margin from 15.6% to 20%. The company tried to do this by expanding its existing business; Introduction of innovative high-margin products; Expansion of the presence in the food service sector; Build a significant presence in emerging markets; and make new acquisitions. In October 2016, Thai Union announced that it had effectively acquired a 49% stake in Red Lobster, the leading seafood restaurant chain in the United States. This diversification was seen as an important growth opportunity for the company. The question for the Thai Union leadership team was whether diversification and growth were the right mantras for the company in 2017, when it had already become an industry leader. A related challenge was building a global organization that could effectively manage the company’s growing and diverse international presence.

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