AM:PM Founders Ready to Stage Comeback

Three years after selling their chain of 24-hour a day grocery stores, the founders of AM:PM are hoping to stage a comeback. Under their sale agreement with Dudi Wiessman, Guy Edri and brothers Ran and Gal Belinkis had to wait until January of this year. The cooling-off period is over now, but they apparently won't be founding another business empire from scratch. Having ruled out merely being hired as consultants, the three are negotiating to buy a 50% partnership interest in a medium-sized retail chain.

The trio founded AM:PM in 2001, shortly after being discharged from the army, with the chain operating solely in the Tel Aviv area. After just five years, it had 18 branches - including a kiosk-type outlet on Shenkin Street in Tel Aviv. Wiessman's company Dor Alon bought them out for NIS 150 million. His purchase won him a boycott, since rescinded, by the Haredi community because the chain operates on Shabbat.

Though prohibited from engaging in similar activity for three years, in the interim the three founders set up a holding company. Among other things, they received the concession to represent the U.S. company TimberTech, which makes products such as fencing and decking out of composite that "looks like wood" and PVC materials.

The three also turned to the real estate sector, where they work with Dror Danon, former manager of the NewPharm Life division. Together the four set up a company called Exit Electronics, which represents the Chinese electronics company Hisense in Israel.