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    <b>INTERNATIONAL NEWS</b>

    Convenience store news from the Pacific Rim.

    * Malaysia's biggest convenience store chain, Convenience Shopping Sdn Bhd, has rolled out NEC Corp.'s convenience store system, which consists of more than 330 servers for data processing, each of which is installed in every store; 660 POS (point of sales) terminals, at least two units of which are installed in each store; and a server on a local area network. Financial terms were not disclosed. Convenience Shopping, through a licensing agreement with U.S.-based 7-Eleven Inc., operates more than 330 7-Eleven stores in Malaysia.

    * In other Malaysian c-store news, Esso Malaysia Bhd will invest a total of RM48 million this year to build six large service stations in the Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru and along highways, its chairman and CEO Robert Fisher said. Apart from the six service stations with On the Run convenience stores that cost RM8 million each, the company was also looking at redeveloping some of its smaller service stations. Esso and Mobil are part of the ExxonMobil group. Together, they operate about 500 service stations in the country and have a 20 percent share of the retail market.

    * A day after upgrading its first-half profit forecast to a range between (Australian) $210 million and $235 million, up from just $76 million in the same half last year, shares in Caltex, the Australia-based ChevronTexaco-controlled refiner, soared another 4.6 percent to a record $8.25. The performance is remarkable, according to analysts, considering the stock was barely worth $1.50 just 12 months ago. According to Caltex's own figures, its refining margins have surged from an average of just $US2.35 a barrel in 2002, to $US3.68 a barrel last year and in the four months to April they rocketed to a whopping $US7.42 a barrel.

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