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South Korea convenience stores seek fresh growth in Southeast Asia

Japanese incumbents like FamilyMart face new challenge in Vietnam and Malaysia

A GS25 store in downtown Ho Chi Minh. (Photo by Tomoya Onishi)

TOKYO/HANOI/SEOUL -- South Korean convenience store chains are pushing deeper into Southeast Asia, posing a threat to Japanese rivals that have been in the region longer but have struggled to maintain momentum.

GS Retail, which entered the Vietnamese market in 2018, already has 160 locations and aims to bring the tally to 260 within the year. Japanese rival FamilyMart had nearly a decade head start but now trails with roughly 150 stores. South Korean operators BGF Retail and E-Mart each opened their first stores in Malaysia last year.

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