Thu, Mar 22, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Far Eastern Geant sets out aggressive expansion plan

COMMITTED TO TAIWAN The hypermarket chain is planning to add at least one new store a year and will remodel some of its 14 outlets to improve its image

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TAICHUNG

Following its acquisition by the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) early last year, Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安) is aggressively expanding to demonstrate its commitment to the domestic market.

The nation's third-largest hypermarket chain expects to add at least one new store per year to its existing 14 outlets nationwide to strengthen its economies of scale, company president Pascal Billaud told reporters yesterday.

It also plans to remodel some of the stores to boost its image and provide a pleasant shopping environment, he added.

These new projects are being backed by its parent company, Far Eastern Department Stores Ltd (遠東百貨), whose board of directors approved a recapitalization plan of NT$1 billion (US$30 million) on Tuesday.

Last September, French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA sold its 50 percent holding -- worth NT$738 million -- in Far Eastern Geant to Far Eastern Department Stores following its decision to exit the local market and focus on emerging markets such as Brazil and Thailand in search of faster sales growth.

Far Eastern Geant posted sales of more than NT$13 billion last year, up 11 percent from 2005, Billaud said. The company remained in the red, however.

He made the remarks during a press briefing in Taichung after the reopening ceremony for the company's Chungkang (中港) store, whose one-year refurbishment project cost millions of NT dollars.

Customer response to the remodeling of the Taichung store has been positive, the firm said, with sales last month jumping 50 percent from the same period last year.

The company this year plans to strengthen its private label product mix and offer a better range of household appliances, marketing director Fiona Wang (王彤芳) said.

By integrating the group's resources, the Far Eastern Group is also building an online store to lure Internet-savvy consumers, who can order products from the hypermarket. The electronic platform will be formally launched in a few months, Billaud said.

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