TOKYO -- Japan's FamilyMart will enter Malaysia through a licensing agreement with local food processor QL Resources in a bid to tighten its grip on the growing Asian market under eased foreign investment rules set by the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The convenience store chain aims to open its first Malaysian location in Kuala Lumpur by the end of the year, with plans to launch 300 stores in the country over five years.
The TPP free trade pact, which is not expected to take effect until 2017 at the earliest, will allow Japanese businesses to take a stake of up to 30% in Malaysian convenience store operators. FamilyMart plans to make the maximum allowable investment in the QL subsidiary operating the chain, giving the Japanese company a direct hand in management.
FamilyMart has entered such markets as mainland China, Taiwan and Thailand through joint ventures with local partners. It will bring know-how in product development and logistics cultivated in Japan in hopes of attracting Malaysian customers. It plans to create eat-in areas at stores to compete with popular fast-food chains, and is looking to offer about 2,000 different products.
Seven & i Holdings' U.S. subsidiary currently operates about 2,000 7-Eleven stores in Malaysia through a licensing agreement, but there is otherwise limited competition in the country.