Mergers & Acquisitions

Merger Creates Japan’s Second-Largest C-Store Chain

Will new company rethink U.S. market?

SAYAMA, Japan -- In a deal that changes the competitive playing field in Japan and globally, retailers FamilyMart Co. and Uny Group Holdings Co. have merged, creating Japan's second-largest convenience-store operator after Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd.’s Seven-Eleven Japan Co., reported Kyodo News.

The launch of FamilyMart Uny Holdings Co. marks a consolidation in an industry in which retailers are facing intense competition to boost sales as the Japanese economy lacks strength and the population is expected to shrink further, the report said.

FamilyMart Uny will revolve around two key businesses—convenience stores and supermarkets.

The company will rebrand most of the 6,250 Circle K Sunkus c-stores that Uny operates as FamilyMart, said the report. It will operate approximately 17,000 c-stores in Japan. Industry leader Seven-Eleven Japan has approximately 18,800 c-stores.

The effect of the merger on the U.S. market is unclear. FamilyMart did not find success with its U.S. venture, while Seven & i previously has vowed to expand its U.S. network.

In October 2015, FamilyMart closed all eight of its Famima!! convenience stores in the United States and liquidated Famima Corp. USA, withdrawing from the United States.

When the chain opened its first store in 2005, FamilyMart said it had plans to open as many as 200 stores in the United States within four years. Between 2005 and 2013, it opened and closed a handful of stores, ending with eight locations on the West Coast.

Tokyo-based Seven & i, the parent company of Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc., recently promoted Ryuichi Isaka, head of Seven-Eleven Japan, to the position of president following a power struggle that resulted in the resignation of CEO Toshifumi Suzuki.

Under Suzuki, the company aggressively acquired other retailers, including high-end Japanese department stores. U.S. activist investor Daniel Loeb, whose hedge fund Third Point LLC holds a considerable stake in the retail giant, criticized the strategy, pushing Seven & i to shed Ito-Yokado and focus on convenience stores.

In May, Isaka said he plans to increase the number of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the United States to boost overall market share amid slowing demand in Japan and as the chain contends with intensified competition.

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