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American manufacturer and distributor Avery Dennison has announced that it will work with the Japanese government to drive RFID technology roll-out in convenience stores across Japan.

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FamilyMart plans to open an additional 300 stores across Malaysia. 

Room for growth in convenience channel

QL Resources, the operator of FamilyMart Malaysia, has reaffirmed its plans to open an additional 300 stores in Malaysia. The retailer opened 30 stores in the country during the previous financial year and another 90 stores in this financial year, ending 31 March 2019.

Chia Song Kun, chairman of QL Resources said, "we still stick to our plan to open 300 stores in five years."

Driven by increasing demand...

Though there is a healthy concentration of convenience stores in Kuala Lumpur and the greater Klang Valley area, penetration in the rest of the country remains low. With only 7-Eleven and MyNews as the other major players in this channel, FamilyMart Malaysia sees positive growth opportunities, driven mainly by domestic demand.

Find out more information about FamilyMart here.

 

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FamilyMart is launching a discount meals program in over 2,000 stores across Japan.

FamilyMart children's restaurant

Famima Kodomo Shokudo (FamilyMart children’s restaurant) aims to support low-income families with discounted meals. The new initiative will allow children and their parents access to meals, desserts and beverages at prices of JPY100 (US$0.9) for elementary school pupils, and JPY400 (US$3.7) for high school students or older. To qualify, they will need to attend a session from the program at a participating store each time. About 10 people can participate in the standard one-hour session, which consists of an orientation, meals and activities.

Positive feedback leading to roll-out

FamilyMart previously tested the program at five stores in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures. After receiving positive feedback from participants, it has decided to roll-out the initiative to over 2,000 stores from next month.

 

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FamilyMart has launched its first laundry-convenience store in the Sanchong District of New Taipei, Taiwan.

A multipurpose convenience store

FamilyMart's new laundry convenience store, which opened last month, operates approx. 140 sq m. The store is fitted with five all-in-one washer-dryers, a service support/payment counter, an area for daily consumables, cigarettes, and more. The retailer plans to open ten more stores of this concept within the next year, with commercial districts that have a high percentage of renters an area of focus.

Smart laundrette and mobile notifications...

For greater convenience, customers can access real-time information about service availability using the FamilyMart app. They also have the option to receive a SMS notifications five minutes prior to the end of their laundry cycle. Prices range between NT$190 (US$6,2) and NT$220 (US$7.2) based on the service. Customer can also choose from 30 different methods of payment.

Competitive convenience landscape

FamilyMart continues to test new store concepts and initiatives. Its futuristic store, which we highlighted as one of The top 17 stores to visit in Asia in 2019 is an excellent example. We have seen FamilyMart in Japan move towards a similar direction, installing laundry machines to support shoppers' wider needs albeit in mainly existing convenience stores.

Taiwan's convenience landscape is highly competitive. Retailers are launching multipurpose stores to meet lifestyle needs in addition to stocking basic food and drink. This is beginning to extend further than just paying bills, buying train tickets and picking up online deliveries, and into pharmaceutical, leisure (gym) and beauty.

We round up the latest trading updates and news for Japan's four largest retailers.

Seven & i posts 13.2% increase in revenue

Seven & i Holdings has released a strong set of Q3 results, posting a 13.2% increase in operating revenue to JPY5,072.3bn, with operating income up 2.9% to JPY304.2bn. Revenue from its domestic CVS operations grew modestly at 2.9%, with existing stores rising for the eigth consecutive year at 1.5%. Growth categories were in sandwiches and noodles sales, delicatessen items and health-oriented products.

The retailer's main supermarket banner, Ito Yokado, was flat at -0.3% YoY. It ended the reported period with 164 stores across Japan, two fewer than the corresponding period last year. Further closures are expected, with the retailer forecasting to end the fiscal year with 158 stores. While total convenience store sales in the U.S increased 28.3% to JPY3,002.6bn for the nine months ending 30th September 2018. Gasoline sales was up 50.8%, with existing store sales up 1.4%.

Seven & i is on track to deliver another excellent year of growth and income. It continues to bring new initiatives to its stores, including store entry and payment through facial recognition. To drive in-store efficiencies and support labour shortages in Japan, it is installing an AI ordering system to suggest volume orders, as well as equipment to collect information to support operational management.

FamilyMart UNY completes brand conversion

In the nine-month period ended 30th November 2018, FamilyMart UNY posted a 1.7% YoY decline in gross operating revenue to JPY470.8bn (excludes the performance of discounted businesses). Core operating income increased 31.4% to JPY48.2bn.

FamilyMart UNY completed brand conversion of all Circle K and Sunkus brand stores to FamilyMart across Japan on November 30, 2018. This has resulted in a total of 5,003 stores being converted since the merger in September 2016. Converted stores have seen YoY increases in both daily sales and customer numbers. More profitable operations is a focus rather than opening new stores. The retailer is committed to enhancing product competitiveness, improving store operating procedures and reinforcing store foundations.

In the general merchandise store business, the six MEGA Don Quijote UNY stores (collaboration with Don Quijote) have sustained positive sales trends. UNY hypermarket operations in Japan will be classified as discontinued businesses (for FamilyMart UNY), after Don Quijote completed the acquisition of UNY on 4th January.

Lawson posts 6.5% increase in sales

Lawson has announced its financial results for the third quarter, posting a 6.5% increase in net sales of convenience stores to JPY1,833.9bn, and 6.8% rise in operating revenue to JPY527.6bn. This was mainly driven by new store openings across network, with a net increase of 532 stores. It reached 14,524 convenience stores in Japan for the reported period. Store numbers overseas increased by a net 452 to 2,048 stores, with expansion mainly coming from China. 

FY2018 marks the third and final year of Lawson's 1000-Day Action Plan project, which aims to develop next-generation convenience stores, stronger support for everyday living and reform of in-store operations. This has been reflected in the retailer's operating profit in the nine months, which declined 11.9% YoY to JPY47.8bn, with investment in systems and expenses for launching Lawson Bank.

The retailer continues to expand its Lawson Fresh Pick (Loppick) service to approximately 1,600 Lawson stores in Tokyo and Kanagawa prefecture. To appeal to a more diverse set of shoppers, the service allows users to order fresh produce and meal kits via smart phone in the morning and pick up their order from a Lawson store in the evening. It remains committed to upgrading its evening range and food options so that they are as attractive as those in the mornings and at lunchtimes.

Health & Wellness Business key growth area for AEON

AEON has continued to cut prices across its formats to attract shoppers and this has led to stronger customer traffic during Q3. For the nine months ending in November, AEON posted a 2.1% increase in operating revenue of JPY6339.3bn, with operating income rising 6% to JPY109bn. The performance of the retailer's GMS Business was flat, with operating revenue growing 0.3% to JPY2,272.9bn. Operating revenue from its Supermarket Business, which includes Maxvalu and Ministop convenience chain, grew 0.5% to JPY2,429.8bn YoY. The retailer's International Business, which includes operations in Malaysia and Hong Kong, recorded revenue growth of 7.6% to JPY330.1bn.

AEON's Health & Wellness Business, which operates under Welcia Holdings Co., Ltd continued to perform strongly, highlighting growing demand in this segment. YoY of all store sales for the nine months increased 12.5%, while same-store sales increased 5.2%. The retailer ended Q3 with 1,800 stores, and continues to be the leader in a highly fragmented Japanese drugstore market.




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