St. Louis-Medicine Shoppe International Inc. (MSI) has announced a master franchise agreement to bring Medicine Shoppe Pharmacies to Japan. MSI will work with Saint-Care Corp., a Japanese provider of home health-care services; Immuno Eight Inc., a retail pharmacy chain, and Komio Nishimura, RPh., a Japanese pharmacist, to make Medicine Shoppe Pharmacies one of the first American pharmacies to operate in Japan.

Medicine Shoppe Japan Corp., a company formed by Saint-Care Corp., Immuno Eight, Inc., Komio Nishimura RPh. and MSI, will oversee the development, subfranchising and operations of all Medicine Shoppe Pharmacies in the country. Nishimura has been named president, and the first store is planned to open by the end of the year in the Tokyo market.

This arrangement will enable MSI to leverage its successful experience in the Pacific Rim region and strategically enter the emerging pharmacy market in Japan. The master franchise agreement for Japan represents the seventh of MSI's master franchise licenses, including six others: Australia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan. -Medicine Shoppe International Inc.

Nicholasville, Kentucky-Contours Express, a woman's fitness and weight-loss franchise, recently announced it has secured a master franchise agreement in the United Kingdom. Contours Express is opening an average of two locations per week across the U.S.

The master franchise agreement calls for 82 Contours Express locations to open throughout the United Kingdom in the next 10 years, with the first location opening in late 2004. However, the UK market has the demographics to support more than 1,000 locations throughout the country, Chong said.

Contours Express also recently signed an area development agreement in Brazil, and continues to rapidly expand its presence in Canada and Mexico. Company executives project at least 1,000 Contours Express studios in operation internationally by 2009. -Fishman PR

San Diego-It's Just Lunch, a specialized dating service for busy professionals, with 65 franchise operations throughout the U.S., announced its entrance into the global marketplace with the signing of its first international franchise agreements in Singapore and Toronto.

The Singapore office plans to open by June 2004; the Toronto office, in July 2004. Singapore has an estimated 1 million adult singles and is anticipated to act as a launching pad for the entire Asian region, with talks for Master Franchise Agreements already underway in Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and Japan. Said Dolan, "We are looking at a number of other regions and expect to open franchises later this year in Australia and Western Europe." -Schwartz PR