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Villar Group to foray into convenience store business

Posted on November 16, 2012 07:39:36 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

FINDS CONVENIENCE Stores, Inc., the unlisted retail arm of the Villar Group, is open to partnering with foreign firms to possibly rival the recent partnership of the Ayala and Rustan Groups with Japan-based FamilyMart Co., Ltd. in the convenience store business.

“We will start to consider tying up when we hit the 100-store mark,” Manuel B. Villar, Jr., Villar Group chairman, told reporters in an informal chance interview following the third quarter results briefing of developer Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc., a sister firm of Finds Convenience Stores, in Makati City on Thursday.

Mr. Villar was asked if Finds Convenience Stores, which was originally conceptualized to cater to residents in Vista Land developments nationwide, will be keen on partnering with foreign companies to further strengthen its brand, tracking developer Ayala Land, Inc. in its foray into convenience store operations.

Earlier this month, SIAL CVS Retailers, Inc. inked a shareholder agreement with Japanese firms FamilyMart and Itochu Corp. for the development and operation rights for FamilyMart stores. SIAL CVS Retailers is a partnership between Varejo Corp., a unit of Ayala Land, and Specialty Investments, Inc., a unit of Rustan-led Store Specialists.

Asked for a timetable for Finds Convenience Stores’ expansion, Mr. Villar said: “We should hit that [100 stores] in a year or two.”

The first Finds store was opened on Dec. 20, 2008 at Springville in Bacoor, Cavite, with the second unit introduced in Starmall, Las PiƱas City a week later, according to the Web site of Starmalls, Inc., another sister firm of Finds Convenience Stores.

“It was envisioned to become a community store, giving comfort and convenience while serving the needs of its customers at an affordable price,” Starmalls said of Finds Convenience Stores.

In December last year, Finds Convenience Stores said it intended to end the year with 50 branches to backed by a group of at least 103 food, beverage, and service suppliers.

It also said that it aimed to challenge the dominance of the country’s top convenience store firms, namely, 7-Eleven, operated by Philippine Seven Corp., and Ministop, which operates under Gokongwei-led holding company JG Summit Holdings, Inc. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente    
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