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Convenience stores go overseas

With business tough at home, foreign markets are looking attractive

Sept 26,2019
Cutthroat competition in the domestic market is pushing local convenience store chains to seek opportunities abroad. A new regulation that went effective this year prevents convenience stores from being opened too near each other only adds to the pressure.

7-Eleven Korea said Wednesday it has started exporting five of its private brand snacks to 7-Eleven in Hawaii. The products include tteokbokki, or sticky rice cakes, snacks, garlic baguettes and sour cream onion pop corn. All are made with Korea seasonings, according to the operator.

7-Eleven Korea said the export was in part driven by the growing interest internationally in K-pop and K-food. It picked Hawaii as the second location after Malaysia, where it started exporting products in 2015, due to the number of Koreans living in the island state.

The exported products are the result of partnerships with domestic small- and medium-sized companies. 7-Eleven Korea believes the exports could pave the way for local firms to develop new markets abroad.

While 7-Eleven Korea is an area licensee of the Dallas, Texas-based-based convenience store operator, the Korean unit formed its own global sourcing team in November to distribute products through the brand’s network overseas.

Korea 7-Eleven plans to expand overseas by exporting its products to at least three Southeast Asian countries by the end of the year.

“7-Eleven strives to continuously cooperate with partners and support them in their efforts to branch out overseas through 7-Eleven’s established global network,” said a spokesperson from the company. “7-Eleven Korea plans to actively expand exports and directly source products from overseas [to Korean stores] through the continuous exchange with global 7-Eleven stores.”

BGF Retail, which operates CU, on Tuesday announced it has teamed up with CUVN, a Vietnam-based convenience store operator, to enter the Vietnamese market. The first store is scheduled to open the first half of next year.

CUVN is a venture established by several firms, including Vietnamese retailer SNB Distribution.

Under the master franchise agreement, franchisor BGF Retail offers the brand, system and the operation knowledge to CUVN, while the local company takes care of the investment and operations while earning the exclusive local rights to the franchise name.

According to BGF Retail, the master franchise could reduce the risk while minimizing the concerns about investment costs. The contract will also offer BGF Retail royalty income. The firm also entered Mongolia in August last year.

BGF Retail said it sees big potential in the Vietnamese market considering people aged below 30 account for half of the country’s population of 100 million.

GS Retail entered Vietnam in 2018 and is operating 45 stores in the country.

BY jiin min-ji [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]


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