Ito-Yokado Co. is on something of a mini hiring spree.

New recruits at it’s annual welcoming ceremony, held Thursday at a Tokyo hotel, numbered 779, compared to the 682 who joined five IY group firms last spring.

The increase, spread over eight group companies, comes despite a slowdown in consumption and in the distribution industry.

“While treasuring the basics, I hope you will all continue to keep your viewpoints of being customers,” Ito-Yokado group representative Toshifumi Suzuki told the new employees.

Despite reductions in the number of new recruits in the industry, including at Aeon Co., which runs the Jusco supermarket chain, Ito-Yokado boosted the number of its recruits as it expands its Seven-Eleven Japan Co. and Denny’s Japan Co. chains.

Two new recruits of IY Bank, which hired fresh graduates for the first time, also took part in the ceremony.

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