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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: FamilyMart Expands in Taiwan

    Convenience store company to add 170 new stores this year, and up to 500 over the next three years

    TAIPEI -- FamilyMart plans to open 170 new stores in 2009 in Taiwan, according to the Taipei Times. Taiwan FamilyMart Co., which had 2,245 outlets in Taiwan by the end of 2008, plans to raise the total number to 2,415, a report in the Taipei Times stated. The company already opened 31 new shops since January.

    Taiwan FamilyMart President Chang Jen-tun said the company will invest 4.1 billion Taiwan dollars ($118 million U.S.) over the next three years to open 500 new stores, remodel existing sites and upgrade its information systems. The company will relocate less-profitable shops from busy streets into alleys to save on rent, the report stated.

    Introduced to Taiwan in 1988 from Japan, FamilyMart is Taiwan's second-largest convenience store chain after 7-11, which has 4,814 stores across the island. FamilyMart also operates Famima!! convenience stores on the U.S. West Coast.

    Additionally, FamilyMart launched six microwaveable meals, including stir-fried bacon and cabbage, and diced chicken with chili and nuts, emphasizing vegetables and freshness, according to the Taipei Times.

    The meals will be priced at 35 Taiwan dollars ($1 U.S.) or a little more per dish to target office workers who eat out frequently.

    Taiwan FamilyMart aims to generate 5 billion Taiwan dollars ($143 million U.S.) in sales from on-the-go food in 2009, up 20 percent from 2008, according to the report.

    In other international news, Japan's convenience store sales in February rose 2.0 percent from a year earlier on a same store basis, the Japan Franchise Association reported.

    Sales were again boosted by people buying cigarettes at convenience stores, which has helped lift sales over the past several months, The Japan Times reported.

    Taspo smart cards, designed to prevent minors from buying cigarettes at vending machines, were introduced last July, but many smokers have not applied for them and are instead buying cigarettes at convenience stores, the report stated.

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