Gokongweis to rebrand, recalibrate Ministop PH after takeover | Inquirer Business
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Gokongweis to rebrand, recalibrate Ministop PH after takeover

/ 04:00 AM January 25, 2022

The Gokongwei group is tweaking the operations of 456-store Ministop Philippines by expanding e-commerce and delivery services and rebranding the convenience store chain by 2023 following a deal to buy out the stake held by Japan’s Ministop Co. Ltd.

Ministop Japan, which is exiting the Philippine and South Korean consumer markets, has agreed to sell its 40-percent interest in Robinsons Convenience Stores Inc., the exclusive franchisee of Ministop in the Philippines, to Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI)

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This buyout deal will raise RRHI’s interest in the business to 100 percent with Ministop bowing out of the 22-year-old partnership by February.

Until 2022

Under the new agreement, RRHI will continue to operate the stores using the Ministop brand within the transition period agreed upon with Ministop Japan, until the stores are “repurposed and appropriately rebranded in consideration of strong ready-to-eat offerings such as Uncle John’s Fried Chicken and Kariman,” RRHI said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday.

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Asked how long the transition period would be, RRHI president and CEO Robina Gokongwei-Pe said in a text message to the Inquirer: “We can use the Ministop brand [for] the whole [of] 2022.”

She said the group was still thinking of a new brand name to replace “Ministop.”

RRHI owns the Ministop franchise through its wholly owned subsidiary, Robinsons Supermarket Corp., the same entity that will acquire Ministop Japan’s 40-percent stake.

Under the Gokongwei group, Gokongwei-Pe explained that the convenience store chain would continue to offer its ready-to-eat bestsellers and make the store network “responsive to the new normal.”

Expansion

“We want to do more than just be a store for ready-to-eat and groceries. We want to do more e-commerce and delivery,” she said.

“We want to expand our e-services and bills payment facilities, and add more stores as delivery pick-up points,” she said.

Ministop is the second largest convenience store operator in the Philippines after 7-Eleven, which has 3,075 stores.

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In 2000, RRHI teamed up with Japan’s Ministop Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corp. to open the convenience store chain. In 2018, RRHI hiked its stake from 51 percent when Mitsubishi exited the venture.

“I would like to thank Ministop Japan for our partnership over the years. Under the Ministop banner, we were able to bring to the public well-loved products and essential services,” Gokongwei-Pe said in the disclosure.

“Our stores will continue to carry our bestsellers while we continue to diversify our ready-to-eat menu and offer new products to the market. Customers can also rely on our convenient e-services and bills payment facilities,” said Suresh Ramalinggam, general manager of Ministop Philippines.

Based on RRHI’s 2020 annual report, the convenience store business accounted for 3.2 percent of its revenues, down from 4.1 percent in 2019 and 4.7 percent in 2018.

Systemwide sales of Ministop Philippines in 2020 amounted to P6.4 billion, of which merchandise sales accounted for P4.8 billion. INQ

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