Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. said Monday its group sales, operating profits and net profits all marked record highs for the business year that ended on Feb. 28, despite the continuing recession.

Lawson recorded a ¥49.19 billion operating profit, up 5.5 percent from a year earlier, and a ¥25.31 billion net profit, up 14.4 percent, on ¥1.56 trillion in sales at its group chain stores, according to the firm.

The higher profits mostly stemmed from Lawson’s efforts to meet customers’ stronger demand to cook and eat at home due to the economic slowdown, by focusing on sales of vegetables at such stores as Lawson Store 100, Lawson Plus and Shop 99, President and Chief Executive Officer Takeshi Niinami said at a news conference.

Niinami also said there is strong customer demand to buy a variety of foods at convenience stores close to home.

For the business year through next February, Lawson expects group sales to grow 10.4 percent to ¥1.72 trillion. It sees operating profits rising by 2.7 percent to ¥50.5 billion and net profits increasing by 0.8 percent to ¥25.5 billion.

“The convenience store business market for customers in their 20s to 40s looks saturated. But there is still room (for further growth) for those who cook, especially senior customers in cities,” Niinami said.

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