Thu, Oct 12, 2006 - Page 12 News List

FamilyMart unveils plans to grow in southern China

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH BLOOMBERG

Taiwan FamilyMart Co (全家便利商店), the nation's second-largest convenience store operator, yesterday announced plans to expand into southern China by duplicating its operational experience in Shanghai, the firm said in a press release.

The first store, in Guangzhou, is expected to have a soft opening later this month, with an inauguration ceremony scheduled for Nov. 14.

Taiwan FamilyMart controls 18.3 percent in the joint venture, which has paid-in capital of 40 million yuan (US$5 million).

Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團), which owns the instant-noodle brand Master Kong (康師傅) and Wei Chuan Foods Corp (味全食品), holds a 50.5 percent share in the venture, while Japan's FamilyMart Co owns 18.8 percent and Itochu Corp controls the remaining 12.4 percent, according to the statement.

The Taiwan-Japan joint venture expects to open more than 100 stores in Guangzhou within three years and expand its territory to cover other major cities around the Pearl River Delta within five years, the statement read.

Pan Jin-tin (潘進丁), chief executive officer of Taiwan FamilyMart, said Guangzhou City, which will host the Asian Games in 2010, holds much potential for development and serves as a great starting point to tap into southern China.

The four corporate shareholders joined forces with the same shareholding portions to enter Shanghai's convenience store sector in 2004. Shanghai currently has 104 FamilyMart stores.

FamilyMart, Japan's third-largest convenience store chain, is attempting to increase sales from overseas as supermarkets in Japan win customers by extending daily business hours up to 24 hours.

"In Japan, competition among retailers is getting more fierce as consumers can choose between convenience stores, supermarkets, department stores, discounters or specialty stores," Japanese Family Mart president Junji Ueda said yesterday at a press conference in Tokyo.

FamilyMart plans to have 8,000 stores in Japan and 12,000 overseas by February 2009, it said.

As of May 30, the company had 6,870 stores in Japan and 6,011 overseas, including Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, China and the US.

Shares of Taiwan FamilyMart rose 0.79 percent to close at NT$51 on the GRETAI Securities Market in Taipei yesterday. In Tokyo, shares of FamilyMart rose 0.3 percent to ?3,190 (US$26.79).

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