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Thailand, China tie-up for Japan’s FamilyMart UNY?

FamilyMart UNY Holdings, Japan’s second-largest convenience store chain, is considering partnering with China’s Citic and Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group.

The companies are looking at opportunities beyond convenience stores, says FamilyMart UNY president Koji Takayanagi.

FamilyMart UNY has forecast it will more than double its profit to ¥100 billion (US$901 million) in four years from ¥41.2 billion in the current fiscal year. This will be driven by converting its Circle K and Sunkus stores into more profitable FamilyMart outlets, says Takayanagi.

“There is plenty of room for growth,” he says of the company, which also runs supermarkets and general stores. While FamilyMart is profitable in China and Taiwan, it is reviewing its loss-making businesses in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. “If we can get them to rally we will, but we cannot continue to pour in resources,” Takayanagi says.

While rival Seven & I Holdings, which owns Japan’s largest convenience store chain 7-Eleven, expands overseas, FamilyMart will stay focussed on the domestic market. “It is easier to achieve results domestically and we know what we need to do,” says Takayanagi.

Japan’s worsening labour shortage, which is leaving convenience stores scrambling to find workers, will force companies to adapt and innovate, he says. Even the country’s declining birthrate and aging population does not phase him. “Even if the amount an individual eats declines, if we offer items with added value people will buy them.”

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