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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Circle K Enters Vietnam Market

    Meanwhile, 7-Eleven Japan fights its country's anti-monopoly watchdog.

    HANOI, Vietnam and TOKYO -- Circle K entered the Vietnam retail marketplace by opening five stores in HCM City, according to VNBusinessNews.com.

    But the chain has an even more ambitious plan for the near future. In the second half of this year, Circle K will open another five locations in HCM City and continue its Vietnam expansion in Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang and Can Tho with the goal of opening roughly 550 stores in 20 provinces and cities throughout the country.

    In other international news, Japan’s 7-Eleven said it may appeal a finding by the country's anti-monopoly watchdog that it had illegally pressured franchise stores not to cut the prices of food items, according to a Reuters report.

    Japan's Fair Trade Commission said in a statement that Seven-Eleven Japan, a unit of Seven & I Holdings, forced stores to stop discounting food items by implying it would terminate the contracts of those that did not comply.

    The FTC ordered the retailer to halt such practices, the culmination of an investigation that had been widely reported by media and a factor impacting Seven & I's stock price.

    Convenience stores in Japan have so far largely avoided cut-throat price competition with consumers willing to accept price gaps with supermarkets in return for convenient locations and long operating hours. But some stores have tried to cut prices of items close to the end of their shelf-life to minimize inventory losses.

    Seven-Eleven said it advised stores against markdowns, explaining they could trigger price competition and hurt overall sales in the end.

    Under Japanese competition law, advising stores about pricing strategy is not illegal.

    Ryuichi Isaka, Seven-Eleven Japan president, said while there may have been "excessive advising" by the chain's field officers on some franchisees, the company has not restricted stores' pricing decisions.

    "We would like to carefully study and decide whether to accept or not," Isaka said.

    A Seven-Eleven Japan spokesman said the company may appeal the FTC's decision.

    Isaka added the vast majority of the chain's franchisees were against discounting prices on food items close to expiration dates for fear of triggering a price war, and therefore it was unlikely such discounting would become prevalent at its 12,000 stores.

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    FamilyMart Expands to Vietnam

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