Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

FamilyMart Co unveils 2,000th outlet in Neihu

NEW DIRECTION With its mixed concept store, the company is embarking on a new business model that prioritizes commercial quality rather than quantity

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Whether you want to have a coffee, surf the Internet on wireless broadband, browse the latest books and magazines or buy some household necessities, Taiwan FamilyMart Co's (全家便利商店) 2,000th store, which opened in Taipei's Neihu district yesterday, has got what you need.

"Taiwan's five major convenience store chains will see the number of stores surpass 9,000 by the end of the year. It would be impossible to survive in this competitive market without trying new business models," said Pan Jin-tin (潘進丁), chairman and CEO of the nation's second-largest convenience store chain.

The new store, occupying a space 40-percent larger than other FamilyMart stores, offers a tailor-made product mix to meet the specific demands of customers in the office building-concentrated area.

"We noticed that it's inconvenient for consumers in the area to dine and buy books, and therefore a 25-seat resting area is offered on the second floor and the number of book titles displayed are two to three times those on offer in other stores," vice president Yeh Jung-ting (葉榮廷) said.

He said the firm would continue to duplicate the new store concept and make adjustments depending on the size of stores and consumer demands.

Established in 1988, Taiwan FamilyMart opened 500 stores during its first ten years. Its store expansion then dramatically accelerated. From 1998 to this year, it has added 500 outlets every three years, with the total number reaching 2,000 yesterday, second only to President Chain Store Corp's (統一超商) 4,380 7-Eleven stores nationwide.

"From now on, we will focus more on quality rather than quantity. The speed of expanding new locations will inevitably slow down in this mature market," Yeh said.

For the first 11 months of the year, Taiwan FamilyMart raked in revenues of more than NT$28 billion (US$861 million), with the whole-year performance expected to top NT$30 billion, growing by 5 percent over last year, he added.

Although Taiwan FamilyMart's market share is only half that of President's business network, it has been a pioneer in extending its business into China.

Yeh said its stores in Shanghai will increase to 300 within the next three years from the current 100 stores. The first outlet in Guangzhou is scheduled to open its doors for business next month.

Shares of Taiwan FamilyMart closed up 0.39 percent at NT$51 on the local bourse yesterday.

By duplicating Japan's experience, smaller rival, OK Convenience Stores, late last month also launched two unmanned stores equipped with vending machines in Taipei to test customer response.

The two experimental stores only sell low-priced products, such as cookies, drinks and daily necessities. Coins and credit cards are accepted.

“As public understanding of the new formats remains low, we'll continue to

fine-tune the operating system and commodity items to better suit consumer

demand,” said Grace Lin (林苑毓), assisting manager of the marketing

planning department.

She declined to offer the two stores' sales figures.

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