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First South Korean Convenience Store Opens in Tehran

The new store of South Korea’s largest convenience store chain CU opens in Tehran on Nov. 20. (Yonhap)The new store of South Korea’s largest convenience store chain CU opens in Tehran on Nov. 20. (Yonhap)

BGF Retail Company, the operator of South Korea’s largest convenience store chain CU, said on Tuesday it has opened a store in Iran, marking the first overseas expansion for a local convenience store operator.

The launch of the store in Tehran came about four months after the company signed an agreement with an Iranian firm Entekhab Investment Development Group to tap into the Middle Eastern country, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The company said the new store is the first convenience store in Iran and the first overseas outlet by a South Korean convenience store operator.

“Iran is the largest market in the Middle East with over 80 million people,” said Hong Jung-kuk, vice president of BGF Retail.

“We will accelerate our global expansion after making a successful landing in the Iranian market.”

South Korean convenience store operators have been eying foreign markets, as the local market, dominated by three chains–CU, GS25 and 7-Eleven–has become increasingly saturated.

The market size for convenience stores in South Korea surpassed 20 trillion won ($18.2 billion) last year, up 18.6% from the previous year, on the back of fast-growing single-person households and an aging society, according to industry data.

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