‘Ministop stores to undergo makeover after share sale’

Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc., a company led by the Gokongwei Group, said it is rebranding its Ministop convenience store chain and may stop using the brand eventually after its Japanese partner decided to pull out its investments in the Philippines.

Robinsons Supermarket Corp. on Monday said it will acquire Ministop Japan’s remaining 40-percent stake in Robinsons Convenience Stores Inc. (RSCI) in February, increasing its share to full ownership from the previous 60 percent.

Robinsons Convenience Stores is the exclusive franchisee of Ministop in the Philippines.

Under the new agreement with Ministop Japan, Robinsons will continue to operate the stores using the Ministop brand within the transition period as agreed upon by its Japanese partner.

These stores will be eventually repurposed and “appropriately rebranded” in consideration of ready-to-eat offerings, such as Uncle John’s Fried Chicken and Kariman, the company said.

“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,” Robina Gokongwei-Pe, Robinsons Retail president and CEO, said in a statement.

“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,” Suresh Ramalinggam, general manager of Ministop Philippines, said.

Over the years, Ministop has struggled to compete in the country’s convenience store sector as it has only 511 stores, according to its website. The figure is fewer than 7-Eleven’s 3,019 branches as of end-September and Alfamart’s 1,161 stores.

Ministop’s other competitors include new entrants—Lawson, operated by the businessman Lucio Co with 55 branches as of 2020; Familymart, bought in 2018 by Davao businessman Dennis Uy, with 87; and the AllDay convenience store of the Villar Group with 73.

In 2000, Robinsons Retail partnered with Japan’s Ministop Co. Ltd and Mitsubishi Corp. to establish the Ministop convenience store in the Philippines.

On August 28, 2018, Mitsubishi sold its 12-percent ownership in Robinsons Convenience Stores to Robinsons Inc. (RI) and Ministop.

As a result of the transaction, RI’s ownership interest in RCSI increased to 59.05 percent from 51 percent while Ministop’s ownership went up to 40.9 percent from 36.9 percent.

On November 4, 2019, Robinsons Inc. also purchased 18.94 million shares from Ministop Co. Ltd for P18.95 million. As a result of the transaction, RI’s ownership interest in Robinsons Convenience Store increased to 60 percent from 59.05 percent.

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