Itochu Corporation of Japan, with diverse business interests ranging from consumer and retail to IT products and services, textiles, financial services, investment and project management, is readying a blueprint to enter India’s retail business sector by launching a chain of Family Mart convenience stores.
Itochu has majority (31per cent) stake in $2.5 billion turnover Japanese Family Mart retail chain that operates around 12,000 outlets in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, China and USA. Family Mart which opened its first store in the USA in July last year, is now focusing on India, Brazil, China and Russia as part of its expansion plans targeting 20,000 stores by fiscal 2008.
According to Masayuki Yamamoto, CEO, South West Asia, Itochu, his company is ready with $2 billion new global investment over the next two years in retail and natural resources. That India is a top priority of Itochu is clearly evident from the fact that two high-powered business missions from Itochu visited India in recent weeks to do a preliminary study of the retail market here.
Itochu, according to Yamamoto, is looking for a reliable Indian partner to set up the Family Mart chain here. "In India, we will replicate our global model of a mix of franchise and company owned outlets. Our strategy is in line with the Indian government's thinking of protecting the interests of pop and mom stores while promoting organised modern retail," he said.
Itochu has a very interesting business model to promote the growth of pop and mom stores. "Globally, besides opening new stores, we are also converting existing pop and mom stores into franchise outlets. We will follow the same business model in India," disclosed Yamamoto. If all goes well, one should soon see the ubiquitous pop and mom stores in their new avataar under the Family Mart banner.