Working from home a boon for utilities, telecommunication and delivery companies

Working from home can prevent further spread of the coronavirus, lessen air pollution, and increase purchasing power from lowered transportation costs. 

The government’s measures to partially shut down Bangkok and surrounding areas has also proven to be a boon for utilities companies, telecommunication providers, and delivery businesses.

Utilities

Shares of Global Power Synergy (GPSC), Gulf Energy Development (GULF), and BGrimm Power (BGRIM) were up by 9, 6, and 4 per cent respectively on Thursday, two days after the government announced the partial shutdown. 

Ratch Group (RATCH) and Energy Absolute (EA) also joined the rally as they were up by 7.5 per cent each as well. A quick glance on Friday morning is still showing a positive outlook for all these shares. However, the government is about to lower the electric and water bills by 3 per cent for three months from April-June with a budget of 5.49 billion baht to help households cope with increasing costs. The cut will lower utility providers’ revenues for this year.

Telecommunications

For telecommunications, Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Corporation (TRUE) led the rally on Thursday as they were up by 13 and 11 per cent respectively, followed by Advanced Info Service (ADVANC) at 5.5 per cent. All of them were up during Friday morning’s trading session as well.

According to DTAC, the company is optimizing its network capacity following traffic spikes as more people are using video conferencing apps to remain productive. Prathet Tankuranun, DTAC’s chief technology officer said the company found a significant rise in mobile applications focused on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and home delivery between January 1 and March 19. 

The top five, with a tie for fifth spot are Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts Meet, Grab, Facebook Messenger, and LINE Call (VoIP) with user growth of 828, 215, 67, 36, and 17 per cent respectively. By province, Bangkok has had the highest growth of internet use, followed by Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Songkhla, and Chonburi.

“We’ve found that the coronavirus crisis was causing data traffic on our network to surge with traffic spikes nationwide this quarter, compared with the previous quarter,” Prathet said.

“Working from home appears to be on the rise as the pattern of data traffic has shifted from densely populated locations like business districts, event venues and holiday destinations to less populated areas, such as residential districts and gated communities,” he added.

As for ADVANC, the company has already launched its “AIS Working From Home” package to capitalize on the opportunity amid the crisis. 

Delivery services

Restaurants and food chains are ramping up their online sales with promotions for delivery services. McDonald’s, one of the few that do delivery throughout the night, already came out with its summer promotion with sales of up to 30-50 per cent. Pizza Hut came out with “the best promotion of the year” with a ‘Buy 1 get 3 Free’ option. 

If you want Japanese or South Korean food but don’t want to go to a department store, you can use Grab Food, LINE Man, or Foodpanda to deliver it to your house. They will even go to your favourite somtom or noodle shop if you manage to pinpoint the location on the application for them. This is not new to Thailand, but these delivery businesses are now working overtime to meet the increase in demand. 

A 31-year-old delivery biker, who asked to remain anonymous and has been working for Grab Food in Pathum Thani since last November, told Thai Enquirer that business has been gradual this week. She believes that this is because Grab Food mostly caters to premium stores and restaurants. Since the economy is not doing so well, people have been stocking up with food since last weekend.

However, some of her friends who work for Foodpanda seem to be getting more work since the partial lockdown. Foodpanda is now offering a promotion called “Appy Days” with free delivery for all orders from more than ten restaurants, provided the order is placed through the Foodpanda application. 

Grab Food’s delivery service starts at 10 baht. Thai Enquirer’s order from Future Park to Phaholyothin 60 (a distance of around 8km) cost our reporter 45 baht on Friday afternoon at around 2:00pm.

“Every time I come back from a delivery, they’re already preparing to send out another order,” she said. She added that she anticipated more orders this coming Saturday and Sunday as it is the first weekend after the partial lockdowns. A good day could be around 15 orders per day compared to around 5-10 per day.

When asked how Grab Food has been advising them in terms of increasing prevention measures, she said the company is now urging people to pay online so that the delivery crew do not have to handle cash. They also encourage their fleet to wash their hands after each delivery in order to protect their crew and customers.

Foodpanda is also implementing preventive measures across its operations in the Asia-Pacific, including contactless delivery, where an order can be dropped at an agreed place instead of through a physical transaction. Online payment is also encouraged to help minimise contact with cash.

The company said in a statement on Friday that they will continue with the platform-wide free delivery on most of their partner restaurants during the outbreak. For riders, their delivery fleet are briefed to use hand sanitizer, wear masks, and wash their hands when possible. If any of their partner vendors has tested positive for Covid-19, they will remove the partner from their platform for 14 days, as well as quarantine any potentially affected riders.

Kasikorn Research Center said this month the outbreak will cost the restaurant businesses around 26.5-36.5 billion baht in terms of lost income from the expected total revenues of 439 billion baht that was previously estimated for 2020, down to 402-412 billion baht.

However, the restaurant businesses that will be most affected are full service restaurants, which depend on visitors to its restaurants for business, and limited service restaurants, which have a food delivery option but largely depend on visitors as well. Full service restaurants will face around 22.8 billion baht of lost income, while limited service restaurants will face around 7.2 billion baht of lost income. This will bring their total revenues down to 164 billion baht and 65 billion baht, respectively.

The impact on restaurants that largely depend on delivery and take away will be limited. For these restaurants, the impact will be around 1.5 billion baht in terms of lost income, which will bring its total revenue to 179 billion baht at the end of the year. 

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