Fri, Jul 10, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Convenience store density highest in Taiwan: report

THEY’RE EVERYWHERE While the market may appear saturated, the Fair Trade Commission said there was still room for the country’s five major chains to expand

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan’s five major convenience store chains had a total of 9,204 outlets nationwide at the end of last year, giving it the highest density of convenience stores in the world, with each store serving 2,500 people, the Fair Trade Commission said yesterday.

Of the total number of stores, 14.3 percent were company-owned outlets, while franchise stores accounted for 85.7 percent of the total, the commission’s tallies showed.

The commission attributed the large number of franchise stores to the relatively low cost and low investment risk.

President Chain Store Corp’s (統一超商) 7-Eleven had the largest market share, with 4,800 outlets last year, followed by Taiwan FamilyMart Co (全家便利商店), the country’s second-largest convenience store chain with 2,324 outlets.

This was followed by Hi-Life International Co (萊爾富) with 1,236 stores, OK Mart Co’s 824 convenience stores and 20 stores operated by Taiwan Sugar Corp (台糖), the survey found.

The number of new convenience stores declined, with the growth rate falling to 1.47 percent last year from 25.38 percent recorded in 1999, mainly because of economic sluggishness, store mergers and emerging market saturation, the commission said.

The number of convenience stores nationwide saw a record-high net increase of 1,002 in 1999, which had fallen to 133 by last year, the commission’s tallies showed.

The commission said that despite market saturation, there was still room for expansion, as the five chains still reported net increases in their store numbers last year.

Separately, the Executive Yuan yesterday approved a service industry development program aimed at boosting the industry’s GDP to NT$11 trillion (US$333.8 billion) by 2012 and its exports to 1.2 percent of the global total by the same year.

The Council for Economic Planning and Development, which drafted the plan, said in a report submitted to a Cabinet meeting yesterday that a lack of simulation abilities made Taiwan’s service industry import-centered rather than export-oriented.

Last year, the export value of the industry stood at US$33.8 billion, which accounted for 0.9 percent of the global total and ranked 28th in the world.

In 2007, the sector’s R&D spending was less than 0.2 percent of its GDP, far lower than the 7 percent recorded in the manufacturing sector, the council said.

The council said that more should be spent in this area to boost the sector’s international competitiveness, improve R&D and innovation performance, create platforms for differentiated services, strengthen talent recruitment and nurture development potential.

The government should guide domestic service providers toward tapping overseas markets and help them overcome barriers to market access by lifting and easing regulations and restrictions, it said.

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