Itochu of Japan to Take Over FamilyMart Stores

The trading house hopes to introduce innovations and boost sales.

July 21, 2020

TOKYO—Itochu, the Japanese trading house that owns 50.1% of FamilyMart convenience stores, is taking complete ownership of the Asian chain in a reported $5.4 billion buyout, according to Petrolworld.

When the transaction is complete, Itochu will offer about 5% of the shares to Norinchukin Bank and Zen-Noh, or the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, for about $531 million to strengthen ties with the nation’s agricultural sector.

FamilyMart had 16,613 stores in Japan at the end of May and served more than 10 million customers a day. However, the chain is struggling with declining profits because of the new coronavirus outbreak and has fallen behind its primary competitors, Seven-Eleven Japan and Lawson.

Itochu reportedly plans to make greater use of FamilyMart’s procurement network, both domestically and overseas, and use FamilyMart’s customer data to develop new businesses that go beyond conventional retailing. Itochu also has expertise in electronic transactions and data analysis that can be deployed to strengthen FamilyMart’s c-store services.

7-Eleven has introduced popular private-label items, and Lawson has built a reputation for sweets. FamilyMart has tried to develop new lines of business around its convenience stores, but few initiatives have taken off, other than its cashless payment app.

Japan’s convenience store industry is almost completely dominated by FamilyMart, 7-Eleven Japan and Lawson. However, doubts have been cast on future market growth due to store saturation and what appears to be a peak in sales.