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Seven-Eleven Japan Co. plans to open its first franchise store in China by year-end and increase the number there to 350 by 2008, according to chairman Toshifumi Suzuki of Seven & I Holdings Co., the holding company of the convenience store chain operator.

Seven-Eleven made inroads into China in April 2004 through a joint venture with a local firm and now operates 25 directly run stores in Beijing. Sales have been growing steadily at these locations, which have average daily sales of 11,000 yuan (US$1,360), or roughly 143,000 yen.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Bank of Scotland has provided a £165 million debt and equity package to support a management secondary buyout of TM Group, the independent operator of newsagents and convenience stores, according to a report on RetailWeek Online.

TM is the largest operator of newsagents and convenience stores in the UK, with more than 1,300 trading outlets under the McColls, Martins, More, Forbuoys and Dillons fascias.

The secondary MBO will enable an exit for the incumbent private equity investors, Montagu Private Equity and Electra Partners, which acquired the business in 1995. Management and employees have rolled over a significant proportion of their equity, and will hold the majority of the equity in the new vehicle with Bank of Scotland taking a minority stake.

Since its initial buyout in 1995, TM has successfully performed a number of strategic acquisitions and disposals, creating a national neighborhood retailing group. Head office operations are based in Brentwood, Essex, and TM employs in excess of 10,000 branch employees.

TM chairman James Lancaster said: "We see significant opportunities for growth in the independent convenience store and newsagent sector.”
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