Puregold Price Club Inc. plans to compete more aggressively in the convenience store sector in the next three years through its joint venture with Japan’s Lawson, with at least 300 stores slated to open by 2018 in strategic areas in the greater Manila area.
Lawson and partner Puregold earlier planned to put up 500 stores by 2020, with 50 percent operated as franchised outlets.
Lawson, Japan’s top convenience store chain, is accelerating its expansion in the Philippines with the opening of 50 to 100 stores this year in a move to catch up with rivals in the Philippines.
Lawson president and chief executive Genichi Tamatsuka said in a briefing Tuesday following the opening of its 20th Lawson store in 6789 Tower along Ayala Avenue the company might conduct trial franchising this year to speed up store expansion.
“We are now starting to formulate our model for franchising. As soon we have confidence, we will pursue franchising model which is suitable for this country,” Tamatsuka said.
“At this stage, we are almost ready to accelerate. More effort is being dedicated for store development. We’re starting with GMA first, where we see that a good 500 stores will not be difficult to fulfill. Then we’ll be spreading to other regions,” he said
Tamatsuka said franchising had been a strategy for growth of Lawson in Japan where it had 99-percent franchised stores of 12,000 outlets. Only a little over 100 stores are company-owned.
Tamatsuka said he saw huge potential in the Philippine market despite the presence of several players, namely FamilyMart, a joint venture between Ayala Land Inc., Itochu Corp. and SSI Group Inc., 7-Eleven via Philippine Seven Corp., Mini-Stop though Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. and All Day, the local franchise brand owned by business tycoon Manuel Villar.
“We have 12,000 stores in Japan but eventually we want our overseas stores to exceed that number. We want 10 to 20 percent of our overseas stores in the Philippines,” he said.
Puregold investor relations head John Hao said the company would earmark P450 million in capital expenditures for the 75 Lawson stores in 2016. Each store costs about P5 million.
Hao said the company aimed to open stores in business districts, business process outsourcing areas and in populated areas like those near schools and universities, and within the metropolis as well.
Lawson has been expanding its presence in the Asia-Pacific, with the Philippines its fifth overseas location.
The chain has some 12,395 branches in Japan, 741 in overseas of which 655 are in China, 46 in Thailand, 38 in Indonesia and 2 in Hawaii.