Lawson to launch Thai business

JIJI

Lawson Inc. is in final stages of negotiations on setting up a joint venture with the Saha Pathanapibul group, a major Thai retailer, to open convenience stores in the Southeast Asian nation, according to sources.

An agreement may be reached this week at the earliest, the sources said.

The plan is part of the major convenience store chain’s strategy to expand its businesses in Southeast Asia, where demand is expected to increase in line with rapid economic growth.

Thailand would be the fourth overseas market for Lawson, after China, Indonesia and Hawaii.

The firm is also considering launching operations in Myanmar, Vietnam and India.

The Saha Pathanapibul group operates more than 600 108 Shop stores selling foods and other daily goods. Lawson is considering converting some of the stores to its convenience stores, the sources said.

Among other Japanese convenience store operators, FamilyMart Co. established a joint venture with Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Retail Corp., in September with the aim of increasing the number of its outlets in the country to 1,500 by the end of 2016 from 746 as of the end of August.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co., a unit of Seven & I Holdings Co., aims to boost the number of its stores in Thailand to 7,000 by the end of next year. Its Thai stores are operated by the Charoen Pokphand group, a local conglomerate.