family affair

Just two months after Convenience Store Decisions was first to announce details of Tesco's foray into the U.S. market, we were able to get an exclusive tour of FamilyMart's operations in Southern California with Shiro (Sho) Inoue, president and CEO of Famima Corp., the Japanese retailer's U.S. subsidiary.

Inoue's candid interview, part of our "2006 Chains to Watch" cover story, detailed Famima's U.S. strategy and its commitment to meeting consumers' demands for an upscale foodservice offering that's easy on the pocketbook. From talking to consumers at its West Hollywood store on glamorous Santa Monica Blvd., there is an excitement surrounding Famima's stores that I haven't seen for some time.

Inoue, a savvy marketer with many years of retail experience with FamilyMart Co. in Asia, senses he has created something special. "We are extremely pleased with the reaction to our stores. It is 100% better than even we expected," he told me at the company headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

So excited about the offering, Inoue confided that the company is quietly considering expansion to New York City and other major markets. "We believe we have created a winning retail solution that appeals to a wide-range of consumers that can be successful in many big markets," he said.

Read the entire Famima story on page 20.

Our second Chain to Watch for 2006 is Southwest Georgia Oil Co., which operates Inland Food Stores. Under the leadership of Aaron Goodman, the Bainbridge, Ga.-based marketer is on an expansion fast track with the goal of becoming the largest independent oil company in the tri-state area of Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Inland has opened numerous convenience stores, service stations and travel centers throughout the area to accomplish that goal. Read Julie Crawshaw's detailed story beginning on page 26.

Growth Continues with Supplier Advisory Board
Last month, Convenience Store Decisions brought the industry its "Ask the Experts" panel to help retailers get the answers they need to industry-related issues in a concise and timely manner. This month, we are proud to announce our new Supplier Advisory Board.

The Supplier Advisory Board also aims to help suppliers promote their message in the industry. Suppliers are often credited by chains for their ongoing support and knowledge of emerging trends. We believe working with the board will help us communicate those trends to the retail community.

The companies were chosen because they represent the top categories identified by NACS in its 2006 State of the Industry (SOI) report, plus a few other segments are an integral part of industry operations, most notably, petroleum and foodservice equipment.

We also added two venerable industry consultants to the board

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