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FamilyMart to double stores in Thailand, take on 7-Eleven

A FamilyMart store in Bangkok.

BANGKOK -- The number of FamilyMart convenience stores in Thailand will double to over 2,000 within five years as the operator seeks to narrow the gap with industry leader 7-Eleven.

The chain aims to draw more customers by providing unique products and services, said Chiranun Poopat, president of Central FamilyMart, which is owned 51% by companies such as Thai retail giant Central Group and 49% by Japan's FamilyMart Uny Holdings.

The convenience store operator aims to broaden its sales network in major cities such as Bangkok and tourist destinations including Chiang Mai in the north and Pattaya in central Thailand. The company plans to increase its prepared-dish offerings by 20% to 500 items, and aims to differentiate itself from competitors with products such as rice balls made from Japanese rice, bread from Japanese bakeries and diced fruit.

Store size also will expand an average of 70% to 150 sq. meters, with a dining space included. Central Group's department store points card now can be used in the convenience store as well.

The Thai operations of 7-Eleven, which are owned by major Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand, are expanding outside of major cities and oversee 9,400 stores as of the end of September. The chain holds a 70% market share based on sales, while FamilyMart gets 5%, British market research firm Euromonitor International said.

Other competitors include supermarkets such as Tesco Lotus, which has an extensive supply chain and operates small-scale shops that sell a wide selection of fresh foods.

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