Famima Forges Service Agreement With McLane

Details emerge about retailer's philosophy, strategy, offering

TEMPLE, Texas -- McLane Co. Inc. has entered into a service agreement with Famima Corp. USA. Backed by the strength of Japanese convenience store operator FamilyMart Co. Ltd., Famima plans to open 250 c-stores in the United States over the next four years. As reported in CSP Daily News, the first store will open in West Hollywood, Calif., in late July.

Shiro Inoue, president and CEO of Famima, said, Our service agreement with McLane provides us the depth and quality support and services to grow rapidly and realize our goal to be the premium experience' [image-nocss] destination for our customers.

FamilyMart Co. Ltd., through U.S.-based Famima, has an aggressive strategy for bringing Famima stores to the United States. With the West Hollywood store as its pilot project, it is planning a strategic rollout of hundreds of retail stores and franchise systems over the next four years.

According to the company, Famima is the first targeted lifestyle specialty all-in-one store that is specifically designed to appeal to the tastes and shopping needs of today's savvy consumer. It says on its website that the stores encompass all that is essential for the 21st century lifestylea neighborhood deli, a quick-service restaurant, a premium grocer, a drug store, a banker, a personal business services and stationery store, a local newsstand and internet provider and a morning coffee and snack stop.

Store features and management philosophy include:

Attractive, modern store design. Diverse merchandising that appeals to distinct consumer groups. Full-service deli and quick-service restaurant serving traditional American and international food. Emphasis on satisfying customer preferences for variety, value and flavor. Full suite of business services. Contributing to the community. Environmentally friendly in the spirit of the 21st century. Service, quality and cleanliness in the exhaustive pursuit of customer satisfaction. Education and specialized training of store staff for superior and devoted service. Merchandise management and information infrastructure that identifies the changing status of sales and ensures fast-selling items are constantly in stock; evaluates consumer trends.

Merchandise categories include:

Deli foods: sandwiches, salads, sushi, side dishes, pasta and noodles, main dishes, omusubi, lunch boxes. Quick service: coffee, fountain drinks, hot and fresh fried foods, panini, Chinese buns. Dairy and bread (including breakfast items). Frozen section: ice cream and frozen foods, bag ice. Grocery: soup, noodles, canned goods, other essential items. Beverages: specialty drinks, tea and coffee, carbonated drinks, fruit and vegetable drinks and juices, high-energy drinks. Confectionary: health bars and healthy snacks, Japanese confectionary, chips, salty snacks, gum and mints, candy, chocolate, nuts and jerky, kids candy favorites. Premium promotional items: tea, coffee, chocolate. Sundries: imported stationery, medicine, women's cosmetics and personal products, men's products, electric goods, DVDs, magazines, cigarettes. Lifestyle products. Novelty products. Business services: digi-print services, hot-spot Internet, ATM, copies, prepaid phone cards. Beer & wine (under consideration).

Sites for new stores have been strategically chosen in geographic areas where consumers have high living standards, said the company. In 2005, three new stores will be added in the West Los Angeles area. By 2006, 30 more stores will be added in North Los Angeles, South Bay and Southwest.

A Famima store tailors a proven combination of quality international and American products for the U.S. market, enticing intelligent, concerned and curious customers with quality, service and convenience, it said. A wide variety of products are organized and displayed for easy, fluid customer comprehension. Vendor and product delivery systems ensure fresh, quality goods. Management and staff training with incentive programs ensure superior customer service and store image.

Famima's corporate philosophy involves "co-growing"the building of mutually beneficial relationships with customers, franchised stores, business partners, employees and the local communities to interact, grow and develop in tandem with them. This model, which the company said has already succeeded in Japan, promotes a tightly knit and harmonious interaction between the parent company and the individual store.

The FamilyMart Group comprises 16 companies: FamilyMart Co. Ltd., eight subsidiaries and seven affiliates. In parallel with its core business of operating c-stores and franchises through a network of more than 11,000 stores in Japan and other East Asian countries, the group engages in business in the sphere of e-commerce and a variety of other fields. FamilyMart is a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corp., Tokyo.

Since 1988, FamilyMart has agressively expanded its overseas network by establishing stores in Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Shanghai. By the end of fiscal 2008, the company will realize a 20,000-store network, it said.

McLane provides distribution services throughout the United States, delivering food and nonfood products to more than 50,000 customer locations, including the c-store, drug store, mass merchandise, quick-service restaurant and movie theater industries. Headquartered in Temple, Texas, the company operates 19 grocery distribution divisions and 18 foodservice distribution centers as well as an industry specific software company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Omaha.