The Fair Trade Commission will soon order Seven-Eleven Japan Co. to stop barring franchise stores from selling boxed lunches and other food products at bargain prices, sources familiar with the matter have said.
Under its franchise agreements, the stores are allowed to set prices, but the FTC has concluded Seven-Eleven Japan unfairly prevented them from selling boxed lunches and sandwiches close to their expiration dates at lower prices, the sources said.
Last October, the FTC raided the office of the nation’s largest convenience store chain, run by Seven & I Holdings Co., suspecting the restriction constitutes an antimonopoly violation that capitalizes on its dominant position.
Seven-Eleven Japan allegedly asked franchise stores to take food products off their shelves two hours before their expiration and to throw them away.
Some franchise shops claim that they have to shoulder the cost of the discarded items as well as royalty payments to Seven-Eleven for the products.
“We are conducting an in-house probe into the case,” an official at Seven-Eleven Japan said, adding that the company is cooperating with the FTC’s investigation.
Seven-Eleven Japan opened its first store in 1974 and had about 12,000 stores in 36 prefectures as of January. In the business year through February, the company recorded sales of ¥2.76 trillion thanks to a boost in sales of boxed lunches and other food products and logged a record operating profit of ¥178 billion.
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