Lawson taps Tamatsuka to take the helm

JIJI, Kyodo

Lawson Inc. plans to promote Chief Operating Officer Genichi Tamatsuka, 51, to president and chief executive officer on May 1, informed sources said Wednesday.

Current CEO Takeshi Niinami, 55, will step aside to take the post of chairman with the right to represent the nation’s second-largest convenience store chain, the sources said.

Tamatsuka joined Lawson in 2010 after serving as president of Fast Retailing Co., operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing store chain.

The change of leadership comes at a time when Lawson, facing increasing competition from the third-largest chain, Family Mart Co., is looking to strengthen its operations to catch up with industry leader Seven-Eleven Japan Co., a unit of Seven & I Holdings Co.

Niinami, who has been at the helm of Lawson since 2002, has led efforts to boost the company’s competitiveness, including launching joint outlets with a drugstore operator and strengthening sales of fresh vegetables.

Niinami has recently been active in roles outside the company, such as serving as a nongovernmental member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Industrial Competitiveness Council.

In a bid to improve worker morale, Lawson moved last week to increase its pay scale for the first time in 12 years, agreeing to meet its labor union’s demand for an average pay scale hike of ¥3,000 per month.