TOKYO -- Japanese drugstore operator Tomod's plans to more than double its Taiwanese store count to around 50 by the end of 2018, with an eye on using the island as a springboard to move into Southeast Asia.
The Tokyo-based company entered the Taiwanese market in 2012, running drugstores mainly in Taipei. But Tomod's opened a location Saturday at a shopping mall in Hsinchu, and the chain intends to tap the network of parent Sumitomo Corp. to spread across the island, including the cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung.
Tomod's projects sales of 5 billion yen ($49 million) in Taiwan for the fiscal year ending in December 2018, up from the 2.4 billion yen forecast for the current year. The chain will differentiate itself from rivals in Taiwan by having Japanese products account for the majority of its roughly 7,500 items, including over-the-counter medicine, cosmetics and everyday goods.
Japanese drugstore chains have been expanding to other parts of Asia since around 2012, but have faced difficulties increasing the size of their networks. Tsuruha Holdings was a pioneer in this area, but its stores in Thailand have decreased from 26 in March 2015 to 20. Welcia Holdings and Cocokara Fine have just three and two stores in China, respectively.
However, the companies appear eager to seek success abroad again as competition intensifies at home. Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings launched its first Thai location in October 2015 and has already expanded to five stores there. Tomod's will consider moving into Southeast Asian markets by drawing on store operation expertise accumulated in Taiwan.