LONDON — Thailand might never be the new China, but it’s an emerging market that’s poised for a luxury boom, according to Ledbury Research.

This story first appeared in the October 11, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In its latest Luxury Market Insights report, to be published later this week, Ledbury singled out Thailand as the number-one “hotspot,” or emerging market for luxury goods.

The country has a gross domestic product of nearly $346 billion — the largest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia — an unemployment rate of less than one percent, and a flourishing export and tourism industry.

It has another crucial factor in its favor: a large middle class.

“Southeast Asia overall is quite far behind China, the size of the population doesn’t compare and you won’t see the same explosion in luxury consumption. What Thailand has is domestic demand from a big middle class, and there is not a large income inequality in the country,” said Nicola Ko, luxury analyst at Ledbury who helped to research and write the report.

Many big brands are already in Bangkok: Louis Vuitton and Burberry each have four stores, while Gucci and Chanel each have three, and Bulgari has two. Cartier and Ferrari also have a retail presence in the Thai capital.

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Over the past year, the number of luxury stores in the country grew 17.6 percent, compared with an average of 8 percent globally.

Thailand took first place in Ledbury’s hotspot ranking, which is based on GDP growth; the amount of business and first-class travel in and out of the country; the growth of luxury stores, and the increase in local stock market valuations over the past year.

The other countries in Ledbury’s top five were India, Peru, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. Ledbury said that in India, the number of millionaires will surpass 400,000 by 2015. In 2010, there were 173,000.

Qatar, which is number 18 on the list, has the highest density of millionaires globally behind Singapore and Switzerland. The Ledbury report says that close to one in 10 Qatari households has investable assets of $1 million or more.

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