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Companies

Japanese retailer Uny to quit overseas operations

Group will focus on domestic stores and financial services

Uny's general merchandise stores in Hong Kong will be taken over by a local retailer.

TOKYO -- Japanese general merchandiser Uny is unloading its last remaining overseas business as part of its restructuring, while parent FamilyMart Uny Holdings moves to step up store renovations in Japan and develop financial services.

The holding company born of the 2016 merger of convenience store operator FamilyMart and general merchandise store operator Uny will sell off all its shares in Uny (HK) this month to a retailing unit of Henderson Land Development, a Hong Kong real estate company. Four general merchandise stores operated under Apita, Piago and other brands will keep their names, but will be run by the new owner through a licensing contract. Uny Hong Kong generated an operating profit of just over 500 million yen ($4.53 million) on sales of around 15 billion yen in fiscal year 2017.

Uny also plans to sell its entire stake in women's apparel store business Molie to Tokyo-based women's apparel maker gf.A. Molie has sustained a net loss for four straight years, and its liabilities of about 2 billion yen will be taken over by gf.A. Around 90% of Molie stores are located inside Apita and Piago stores.

Uny's interests in the two businesses are expected to sell for a total figure around 6 billion yen, including debt. Uny will use the proceeds to renovate its existing general merchandise stores in Japan, planning to double such investments to 6.5 billion yen in fiscal 2018, and to strengthen its financial operations, including electronic money and credit card services.

The sale of the two businesses marks the end of Uny's overseas general merchandise store operations and its apparel sale business in Japan. In 2016, Uny unloaded kimono specialty store operator Sagami and apparel unit Palemo. And in Shanghai, the group has sold off its general merchandise store operations and licenses them instead.

FamilyMart Uny is also trying to capture the growing Japanese demand for prepared food to be eaten at home by collaborating with specialist unit Kanemi, which it acquired last year for about 9 billion yen. The company will also work with discount store operator Don Quijote Holdings, which it formed a capital tie-up with last year, to rebuild its domestic general merchandise business.

Trading house Itochu plans to raise its stake in FamilyMart Uny to turn it into a subsidiary as soon as this summer.

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