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Business

Japan's FamilyMart plans international store-to-store shipping

TOKYO -- FamilyMart will work with the Japan Post group to provide shipping between the company's domestic convenience stores and such foreign Asian destinations as Taiwan, targeting demand by the recent flood of tourists from abroad.

     FamilyMart will start accepting packages for shipment at its stores, which number around 12,000 in Japan and 6,000 internationally, as early as this fiscal year. Japan Post Co. will transport parcels from locations at home to those overseas. Customers can already send and receive packages at many convenience stores in this country. But FamilyMart's will be the first in-house service to offer shipping to and from sites abroad.

     The convenience store operator envisions the service's main users as foreign tourists sending such large parcels as gifts for family and friends back home. Shipping from stores abroad to those in Japan will also be offered.

     Taiwan, which boasts around 3,000 FamilyMart stores, is set to receive service first. Visitors from the island spent around 520 billion yen ($4.59 billion) in Japan in 2015, second only to mainland Chinese tourists, the Japan Tourism Agency reports. Thailand, with 1,000-plus stores, is seen being added later, along with areas including mainland China. Such details as fees have yet to be set.

     The convenience store operator looks to deepen ties with Japan Post in the financial sector as well. FamilyMart locations now host 500 or so ATMs of Japan Post Bank. The plan is to increase this by 3,000 in the two years from fiscal 2017. Even more machines could be installed after FamilyMart and Circle K Sunkus parent Uny Group Holdings merge this September.

     FamilyMart and Japan Post Insurance will also look into selling policies via digital service terminals at convenience stores.

     The Japan Post group's tie-ups with private-sector companies in various fields aim to boost revenue as low interest rates eat into performance at the banking unit and falling demand for shipping hurts mail operations. The team-up with FamilyMart will mark the first such effort since Japan Post Holdings and the insurance and banking units went public last November.

(Nikkei)

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