Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 10 News List

RT-Mart institutes 24-hour shopping at Taichung outlet

MIDNIGHT SNACK As the nation's hypermarket chains jostle for market share, they're having to stay open later and later

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

RT-Mart (大潤發), the nation's second-largest hypermarket operator, will introduce 24-hour service at its Taichung outlet today to better serve night owls and people who work late -- a step its smaller rival Tesco took in 2001.

It has become more common in the retail business to extend operating hours or even introduce 24-hour service, said Winston Chang (張文仁), marketing director of the 22-outlet chain.

RT-Mart said that it had confirmed the business potential of round-the-clock operation during a trial carried out in May and last month at its outlet in Taichung, as well as one in Pitan.

"The revenue was better than expected. We saw 10 percent growth compared with the same period last year," Chang said.

Taichung is viewed as a good location to spearhead the implementation of 24-hour operation because being in the center of the country makes it easier to extend the business model from there to other branches, Chang said.

Chang said that some restrictions are necessary when operating overnight in order not to disturb neighbors. No cooked food is sold and trucks are not allowed to unload.

The outlets in Chungho, Neihu and Chungli will soon begin to operate on 24-hour schedules on weekends. RT-Mart said that it plans to gradually extend the operating hours of all its outlets in densely populated areas.

The UK-based Tesco Taiwan began to test the waters for extended hours in late 2001.

"The major consideration is to boost service quality, rather than increasing revenues," said Daisy Lee (李如秀), a public relations official at Tesco Taiwan.

Lee said night-time operations barely break even, given the ratio between labor expenses and revenues generated at night.

Carrefour Taiwan and Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安) are both evaluating exending their hours.

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