Japan’s 7-Eleven set to clock in for Vietnam debut in June

By Vien Thong   June 5, 2017 | 12:13 am PT
Japan’s 7-Eleven set to clock in for Vietnam debut in June
A signage of a 7-Eleven convenience store is seen on a street in Tokyo. Photo by Reuters
The convenience store chain reportedly plans to open 100 stores in Vietnam in the next three years.

Seven & i Holdings, which operates Japan’s biggest convenience store chain 7-Eleven, will open its first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City this month, according to information on the company's official Facebook page.

A recent post said the first 7-Eleven store in Vietnam could be opened in downtown District 1, District 3 or Binh Thanh. District 2, a popular neighborhood among foreigners and expats, is also a possible location, it said.

The company has been hiring staff for its Vietnamese entry since early this year, around a year after its U.S. subsidiary signed a license agreement with Seven System Vietnam, a new firm founded by a Vietnamese restaurant chain.

A Nikkei report said Seven & i Holdings plans to apply its home business model in Vietnam, and Japanese employees will be dispatched to help local staff develop products like ready meals, and to choose store locations and develop a distribution network.

Kyodo News quoted a company representative as saying that it plans to open 100 stores within three years and expand the number to 1,000 in the next decade.

The company, which operates more than 61,500 7-Eleven outlets including more than half outside Japan, has opened stores in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

The chain’s expansion comes as its rival FamilyMart, Japan’s second largest convenience store chain, said last month that it plans to stay focused on the domestic market after reporting losses in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian markets, including Indonesia and Thailand.

“We cannot continue to pour in more resources,” company president Koji Takayanagi told Reuters. FamilyMart first arrived in Vietnam in 2010 but was forced to withdraw before returning in July 2013. It had 150 stores at the end of last year.

Vietnam’s trade ministry has projected the market to hit $179 billion by 2020, a jump of 52 percent from last year, with foreign convenience store operators already holding a 70-percent market share.

The sector has a lot room to grow in Vietnam, where more than half of a population of nearly 92 million are young and the annual average income is expected to increase rapidly, the ministry said.

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