Japanese retail giant Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd. said Friday its Ito-Yokado Co. supermarket chain will shut down 40 unprofitable stores, or about 20 percent of its stores, over the next few years.
It is expected to close several stores within its current business year ending in February 2016.
The plan comes after the operating profit for the retail group’s supermarket division in the year to last February plunged 34.8 percent from a year earlier amid a consumer tendency to prefer specialty stores such as the Uniqlo casual clothing chain over general supermarkets.
Ito-Yokado is expected to concentrate business resources on better-performing stores and limit the annual number of new store openings to one.
Seven & I announced a plan in 2009 to shut down 30 Ito-Yokado stores but cancelled the plan for areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, resulting in the shutdown of a little over half the planned total.