E-Mart to sell products at convenience stores

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E-Mart to sell products at convenience stores

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E-Mart may be making deeper forays into the convenience store market.

The nation’s largest discount store chain will start selling some of its products at With Me FS, which runs a chain of nationwide convenience stores under the With Me brand, including about 90 in metropolitan areas, after the two sides inked an agreement on Thursday.

And now industry figures claim E-Mart is reviewing whether to acquire the business rights to the chain outright.

E-Mart said it put the issue of whether to act as a wholesaler for the chain to its own board last month and a deal was officially made late this week.

Unlike other convenience stores like 7-Eleven or CU, With Me FS only takes responsibility for supplying goods and brand marketing. It does not directly manage the operations of franchisees.

E-Mart also supplies goods as a wholesaler to private businesses by changing some of their stores into supply bases.

Retail industry analysts believe E-Mart is preparing to enter the convenience store business in a more aggressive way and is just testing the waters at present.

“E-Mart needed a new distribution channel as the competition between large discount stores and super-supermarkets has become more intense in the wake of government regulations curbing their business hours,” said an industry insider.

“People have been predicting for a long time that E-Mart will choose the convenience store industry as its next business,” he added.

A spokesman for the nation’s top discount store said such talk is overblown and that it is merely supplying its goods to the convenience store chain without charging any commission fees. “We’ve been making similar contracts with other private supermarkets,” he added.

By Kim Jung-yoon [ kjy@joongang.co.kr]
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