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FamilyMart Malaysia eyes expansion

Convenience store chain FamilyMart Malaysia is aiming to open up to 1000 stores by 2020.

Out of Japan, the group is using a franchise business model in its newest market in partnership with agro-food company QL Resources, with which it has signed a 20-year agreement. As master franchisee, QL plans to have four stores open by year-end.

“The offer of fresh food is our main differentiation,” says QL executive director Chia Li Khai. Its first FamilyMart launched in Wisma Lim Foo Yong in Kuala Lumpur through its wholly owned subsidiary Maxincome Resources, with a second just opened in the Mid Valley Megamall south of Kuala Lumpur.

These will be followed this month by stores at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) station of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT line and KLIA2.

It is setting itself apart from competitors with its “konbini” convenience-store concept from Japan. Of the nearly 2000 items on sale in each store, about 5 per cent are developed by the company using ingredients sourced by QL.
Health, beauty and personal-care products are part of konbini offerings.

Malaysia’s stores will have a counter offering oden steamed fishcakes served on a stick in broth. Other hot snacks available include fried karaage chicken, frankfurters and bento lunchboxes, as well as onigiri rice balls in seaweed plus puddings, mousses and ice cream.

Its ready-to-eat food range also includes Malay favourites such as nasi biryani and mee siam, plus salads and sandwiches and fresh coffee.

“Partnering with QL in developing halal products will be our biggest advantage,” says FamilyMart president Takashi Sawada.

He says the group is constantly studying emerging markets in the region, including Cambodia and Myanmar. The chain also has a presence in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

“We want to learn from Japan by offering amenities such as recycle bins and toilets equipped with bidet,” says Chia, who is the son of QL founder and group MD Chia Song Kun.

Malaysia’s outlets will also offer courier services and bill-payment services, says Chia, noting the group has earmarked up to 20 million ringgit (US$4.5 million) annually for store expansion.

Competitor 7-Eleven has about 2000 outlets in Malaysia, adding 113 this year.

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