Convenience stores rack up profits

JIJI

Three of Japan’s five major convenience store operators logged record parent-only operating profits in the year that ended in February as they actively opened new outlets, according to their earnings reports released by Wednesday.

The top three, Seven-Eleven Japan Co., second-ranking Lawson Inc. and FamilyMart Co., also succeeded in attracting female and elderly customers by expanding their lineups of prepared food and private brand goods.

In addition, they met customer needs by expanding in-store spaces for eating. The three companies also enjoyed year-on-year growth in all-store sales.

Meanwhile, Circle K Sunkus Co. and Ministop Co., the fourth- and fifth-ranking players, suffered double-digit falls in their operating profits.

Ministop, which posted a 29.6 percent drop, failed to revamp its outlets at a time when customer needs are changing, its president, Nobuyuki Abe, has said.

In the current fiscal year, the five firms plan to launch a total of 4,400 new stores, the highest annual number ever. By boosting the number of its outlets, Seven-Eleven Japan aims to earn more than ¥200 billion in operating profit.

But competition is expected to intensify further as the total number of convenience stores in Japan has topped 50,000.

Lawson President Takeshi Niinami told a press conference Wednesday that the company needs to promote the launch of new types of stores to survive the growing competition.