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Japanese convenience stores in the US June 8, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Food and Drink, Japan, Shopping.

via Springwise

Springwise has a piece about Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart (aka Famima) in the US.

Famima USA seems to be a lot plusher than the Famima down the street from where I live (which is pretty much identical to all its other locations I've ever been in, including the ones in Taipei).

Japanese convenience stores seem all to feature ultra-bright in-store lighting, which apparently draws potential customers in off the street. None of the dark wood interior that Famima USA advertises on its website.

Not a premium convenience store in Japan by any stretch of the imagination.

I guess the nearest we have (had?) to the premium convenience store concept was high-end supermarket Seijo Ishii's "Seijo Market" store. They remodelled that store after 6 months because they found that it didn't attract the F1 and F2 segments which they had hoped to target. Apparently the store was too much like a convenience store. The store has been remodelled and is a "Seijo Ishii Select" mini-supermarket. Seijo Ishii is great for buying foreign sweets and condiments as there are plenty of convenient locations (for the even rarer to find stuff you'll probably have to go to Kinokuniya or Nissin World Delicatessen or National Azabu). Seijo Ishii has long had ready to cook/eat type foodstuffs catering for the busy/lazy.

Of the potential players looking to target the market, Seijo Ishii's parent company Rex Holdings is probably the best placed having required mid-to-high end brand name recognition with Seijo Ishii (which has the name of a prestigious Tokyo neighbourhood (Seijo) in its name), and also having the convenience store chain am/pm in its portfolio which would mean minimal additional logistical costs and low sourcing costs compared to starting from scratch.

Back to the Springwise story, I had a look around the Harrods 102 when I was in London last month, wondering around my old neighbourhood in South Ken/Brompton/Knightsbridge. I have one major complaint. Yo! Sushi. I know it is popular in London (the one in Selfridges was packed and there were people waiting to grab a stool!!!), but the stuff they were serving looked awful. The sushi bar in the Harrods food hall didn't look much better either, come to think of it.

Yo! Sushi? Crap! Sushi, more like. I guess they aren't to blame though. They can get away with what they serve because no one offers anything better. Do someone want to throw money my way so I can set up a better sushi chain (even if it is conveyor belt sushi with the rice molded by machine) around Europe? Surely it can't be hard to better Yo! Sushi.

And Wagamama, well, that certainly is NOT Japanese ramen. Which is ok, if they didn't try to pass it off as such.


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