Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Feast and Famima: Japanese C-Store Retailer Set to Open One of its Upscale Famima!! Prepared Foods, Convenience Stores in Fountain Valley, California

Japanese convenience store retailer FamilyMart Group is set to open one of its Famima!! upscale hybrid fresh foods/convenience stores at 9380 Warner Avenue in the Orange County city of Fountain Valley in Southern California on July 9, reports 'Fast Food Maven' blogger Nancy Luna. The Famima!! store will be nearby the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market store set to open on July 16 at 9475 Warner Avenue in Fountain Valley. Welcome neighbors.

Fresh & Easy Buzz is very familiar with FamilyMart Group and its Famima!! retail store format, having toured the company's stores in Japan, which is the land of convenience stores having more per-capita than any other nation in the world, as well as having visited the Los Angeles store in the past. Famima!! is the Japanese retailer's brand for its upscale U.S. stores. FamilyMart Group operates traditional convenience stores in Japan (the Japanese word for convenience store is konbini), as well as some upscale format version in the country as well.

FamilyMart Group already has a couple Famima!! stores in Southern California, including one in Los Angeles, as mentioned above. However, not too long ago the Japanese retailer closed two of its stores in the city of Long Beach for sales underperformance reasons. That isn't keeping the retailer from opening more trendy Famima!! stores in California--and perhaps elsewhere--however, albeit not at a pace even near on-par with Tesco's Fresh & Easy.

The Famima!! stores are upscale hybrid convenience and fresh foods stores, with lots of ready-to-eat prepared foods, grab-and-go items and lots of upscale snacks, beverages and related items.

For those who are familiar with the Wawa hybrid convenience/fresh foods/grocery stores in the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern parts of the U.S., Famima!! is similar to the convenience/fresh foods aspect of the Wawa stores in a number of ways.

In terms of design, Famima!! stores aren't your uncle Ralph's American convenience store. Rather, they look more like something you aunt Pheobie from Beverly Hills would want in a convenience store: upscale, trendy and geared as much to woman as to men. Typical U.S. convenience stores like 7-Eleven target men more than they do woman.

The Famima!! and Fresh & Easy store formats are very different, although they have the prepared and grab-and-go fresh foods merchandising element in common. They also are after different customers in the main: Famima!! is more convenience, small-order driven, while Tesco's aim with Fresh & Easy is to be "the" neighborhood grocery store for those residents who live around the stores.

However, there's only so much "share of consumer stomach." Therefore with these stores being near neighbors, and both having ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared foods as a central element of their respective merchandising schemes, by virtual of the "share of stomach" rule, they will be competitors with each other in part.

Read the 'Fast Food Maven's' June 18 blog report here and another here.

You can read more about the Southern California Femima!! stores in this piece (with photographs) from the LA Weekly.
Fresh & Easy Buzz will be offering some in-depth analysis on Femima in an upcoming piece.


John said...

Famima is ridiculously overpriced and the Lotte chocolate sticks don't seem to be the best seller in the LA market. That explains why their stores are completely void of customers. It would be interesting to see how they would do if their prices were more reasonable.

OakMonster said...

I LOVE Famima!! too. Not to the scale of F&E, of course.

I'd call it an upscale 7-Eleven. This is where I can get all of my J-snack fix. (Oh, the glorious almond Pocky!) The grab-and-go lunch selection is pretty good.

My favorite thing is the steamed buns available all day. Hmmm...pork bao...

Michael said...

Was recently in Japan, and loved convenience stores there called Natural Lawson. Sort of a mini Whole Foods Market in a way, but yet different. Cool stores.