TOKYO -- Japanese convenience store operator Ministop said Monday that it is pulling out of Kazakhstan, citing a change of heart by local partner Lancaster Group following a shift in economic conditions since the February devaluation of the local currency.
Ministop set up a joint venture in 2012 with Lancaster and Japanese logistics company Senko to operate convenience stores in Kazakhstan. The initial location opened the following January in Almaty as Central Asia's first Japanese convenience store. The venture now operates seven stores.
With the 20% devaluation of the tenge, Lancaster wants to exit the convenience store business and focus on its core activities of advertising and retailing, including stores in train stations, according to Ministop.
Ministop will sell its 39% stake in the joint venture to Lancaster in July, and Senko will unload its 10% interest. The venture will be dissolved and the seven stores closed.