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Business trends

Southeast Asian convenience chains leading a retail revolution

Local players thrive by carefully adjusting lineups, enhancing services

Aisles are barely wide enough for a single person at VinMart's Le Duan outlet, but the store makes up for it with an effective layout.

HANOI/YANGON -- A kind of retail revolution is taking place in Southeast Asia's convenience-store sector, as stores find a competitive edge by adjusting product offerings based on time of day, and offer a level of service on par with stores in Japan and other advanced economies. Such efforts are helping bring prosperity to the region's convenience-store business.

Take the VinMart Plus chain of stores operated by Vietnamese property developer Vingroup. Since 2016, when the company began opening stores in earnest, the number of VinMart Plus stores has increased rapidly, topping 1,000 as of September. That is well ahead of the second-largest convenience store chain, Japan's FamilyMart, which expects to have 150 stores by the end of this year.

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