Monday, 12 January 2009

Convenience store bucks gloomy forecasts

Honey Madrilejos-Reyes / Reporter
The Business Mirror

THE tough environment caused by the global financial crisis is not going to hamper the expansion plans of Robinsons Convenience Stores Inc. (RCSI) this year.

In an interview on Friday, company president Johnson Robert Go Jr. told the BusinessMirror about 80 more Ministop branches will be opened in 2009 in Metro Manila and Luzon.

RCSI is the local franchise holder of one of the country’s leading 24-hour convenience stores, a brand that originated in Japan.

The new stores will cost about P400 million to put up, according to Go. In 2008, RCSI opened 60 stores, closing the year with a total of 230 branches.

“Our continued expansion clearly shows that we continue to be bullish on the industry because of many contributing factors, like the continued success of the outsourcing business resulting in the increasing number of customers,” said Go.

Since starting the Ministop business in 2000, he said their operations have never felt any adverse impact from crises like the change in government administration, fuel-price hikes and rice-supply shortage.

Such positive note is encouraging them to evaluate the potential of expanding to the Visayas and Mindanao. “Maybe two years down the road we would have presence in those areas. What is important for us is to first establish that there is a critical mass in the areas to complement our network of stores,” said Go.

RCSI will also explore tie-ups, for instance, with real-estate firms for them to be able to put branches in the various developments.

Most of the Ministop branches are operated through franchisees with 5 percent to 10 percent of the total number of stores being company-owned.

The brand entered the Philippine market in December 2000 following a joint-venture agreement among the Gokongwei group, the Mini Stop of Japan and Mitsubishi.

Its closest rival is 7-Eleven, the pioneer 24-hour convenience store that is run by the publicly traded Philippine Seven Corp.

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