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TAIPAI, Taiwan -- Faced with changes in the job market and an aging population, Taiwan's largest convenience store chain operator is adjusting its franchise system to embrace more middle-aged people to deliver sustainable growth, reported the Taipai Times.

President Chain Store Corp., which operates 3,839 7-Eleven stores in the country, said it also encourages retail business owners from other sectors to join its franchise network. Currently, 84 percent of President Chain's 7-Eleven outlets are franchised.

“The quality of the franchisees is the key to successful operation,” said Hsu Chung-jen, president of President Chain, at a press conference this week. “We'll grant franchisees better benefits compared with competitors to take care of their families, but we also hope every 7-Eleven outlet can make a profit.”

The company is loosening requirements for franchise applicants, including raising the maximum age from 50 to 55, and offering preferential deals to veterans and their relatives, Hsu said.

The measures are aimed at luring franchisees interested in starting a second career, especially as the privatization of state-run companies will see a rising number of middle-aged retirees, he said.

Taiwan currently has more than 8,000 convenience stores from five major chain operators, giving it the highest store density in the world and a fiercely competitive sector.

Hsu denied speculation that the changes are because the company is facing a bottleneck. The company, founded in 1978, expects to expand its store count to 4,000 by the year's end.

“We just think this is the right direction, in line with social changes and a good way to absorb experienced franchisees," he said.
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