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Eager to expand, Seven-Eleven Japan aims for 20,000 stores in U.S.

JIJI

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. expects to open thousands of new stores in the U.S., increasing its current tally of 8,500 to 20,000, President Kazuki Furuya said.

The unit of Japanese retail giant Seven & I Holdings took full control of 7-Eleven Inc. of the United States in 2005.

The U.S. unit is now prepared to expand its network after introducing Japanese-style product development and services through personnel exchanges with Seven-Eleven Japan, Furuya said.

He said whereas U.S. customers tended in the past to be lower-income people, increasing numbers of the middle-class are now using the outlets because the quality of goods has improved.

The U.S. unit believes it can boost its average daily sales per shop to between ¥800,000 and ¥900,000 from some ¥500,000 at present, he said.

Seven-Eleven Japan also plans to accelerate opening new stores in Japan, he said. There are currently 19,000 stores nationwide, and the number is expected to surpass 20,000 next year.

Furuya dismissed concerns about saturation in Japan’s convenience store sector. He said the stores offer quality products and are more useful than distant supermarkets.

“If convenience stores continue to evolve, there will be chances (to grow),” he said.

The relationship with Mitsui & Co. will remain unchanged, Furuya said, referring to the trading house that has a 1.8 percent stake in Seven & I Holdings.

The comments came after rival trading house Mitsubishi Corp. announced plans last week to raise its stake in Seven-Eleven Japan rival Lawson Inc. to a majority.