Convenience / Grocery Store Chains With Overseas Operations

September 28, 2014

The retail store industry seems to be finally moving out of the economic slowdown within the United States, with news of new store locations opening in other parts of the world and within the country. Top of the chart convenience store chains and restaurant chains like Starbucks, Seven Eleven, Family Mart and Target already have a significant presence in markets around Southeast Asia. These private C store chains companies with billion dollar turnovers make it their business to make lives of their customers easy by bringing them all the products they require under one roof.

A recent industry analysis about the retail sector has stated that with economies around the world showing signs of growth, the demand for convenience stores has also increased as they are more time saving and provide customer-friendly services. The people in undeveloped markets also are now aware of the importance of convenience stores that are more customer-friendly than the neighborhood provision stores, and provide better cash deals. To capture this growing educated middle class and upper middle class population that has decent disposable income and understands the value of branded products, top convenience store chains with an overseas presence are looking to expand their operations.

Below is a list of United States-based convenience stores that are well established overseas:

1. Seven Eleven – The top US convenience store chain has branches across Malaysia and Indonesia, which sell the usual fare along with locally made content sourced from local suppliers. The firm has grown by six percent after it was listed on the Malaysia Stock Exchange. Since the government does not allow direct foreign investment, Seven Eleven has a licensing agreement with Japan’s Seven &1 Holdings to operate its C store chains within Malaysia. For Seven Eleven, Philippines has been a better business option in comparison to Malaysia as the number of stores has grown from seven in the first year to a thousand three hundred within next couple of years. This growth is driven by the increase of Indonesia’s middle class who draw good salaries.

2. Walmart – Among the first American convenience store chain to expand into international markets, Walmart was established in 1962. Though the firm has suffered due to recent financial slowdown it still retains its position among “most valuable companies in the world.” Its overseas operations have had a mixed outcome as stores in locations like England, South America and China have been profitable while the outlets in South Korea and Germany were failures.

3. Circle K – This convenience store chain, which began its business in 1951 in Texas on a small scale, never imagined that it will grow beyond the nation’s boundaries. The enterprising spirit of its co-founder Fred Harvey grew this store chain into 1000 outlets across the nation by 1975. With careful planning and foresight, the firm made its first foray into international markets by opening its store in Japan in 1979. Its growth scaled after this drew a fiery across the world with sales expanding to $1 billion by 1984. To expand its operations in nations where direct foreign investment was not allowed, the firm had the support of franchisees that helped Circle K to grow across thirteen nations.

4. Costco – One of the first retail warehouse distributors to set up operations in United States, Costco was founded in 1976 in San Diego. It presently has above 450 warehouses storing merchandise across United States followed by another 200 odd stores in South East Asia and few locations in Europe. It is open to members only who can buy a wide variety of merchandise ranging from food items to electronic goods, cosmetics, home appliance, and others. The firm’s total sales in last fiscal amounted to $ 64 billion and its memberships now exceed 3 million, even in a sluggish economy. Costco’s popularity is intact among its members as it regularly changes its brands on offer by bringing in new products that have better discounts on inventories, and passes them on to customers making it a popular C store chain.

5. Sears Roebuck and Co – Though it was started way before any of the current market leaders, Sears has not been as successful in recent years. It has restricted its overseas operations within North America and has branches in Canada and Mexico besides United States, and in 2012, was the fourth largest convenience store chain. The store, which first began operations in 1800s to sell products by mail order catalogs, has today become a multi-billion dollar business unit with a turnover of $21.649 billion and more than 2000 stores across United States, Canada, and Mexico.

6. Whole Foods Markets – This convenience store chain is the youngest in the list and was started in 1978 by John Mackey and Renee Lawson to satisfy the demand for natural food items that have not used artificial pesticides or chemicals. After a few setbacks, the group expanded out of Texas into New Orleans and moved its operations into California in 1990s. With growing demand for a wider variety of natural foods, the group bought over small outlets in Los Angles, Northern California, North Carolina, Florida, and Massachusetts. The firm’s international operations extend to United Kingdom and Canada which were set up after 2007.

7. Safeway Inc – The group started operations in 1915 when its founder M.B. Skaggs opened a grocery store in Idaho that he helped grow to 428 stores across 10 states within a short span of 11 years. His innovative spirit was visible in the way Safeway stored labeled the nutritional content of their food items that was unheard of in early 1940s, followed by spacious parking lots and reasonable pricing. The C store chain expanded into United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Germany, and Jordan, but faced several financial problems. It has been bought over by different firms in various locations that have helped the brand grow into 1335 stores within United States followed by 195 outlets in Mexico.

This list of convenience store chains contains firms that have grown from humble beginnings as c stores/grocery stores and companies that have began their operations on a grand scale with a global perspective. Both formats have gone through their own ups and downs, and have managed to maintain a steady growth path through the years of business.