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Seven-Eleven Japan Co. is cautious about allowing its franchise convenience stores to close, its president, Fumihiko Nagamatsu, indicated in a recent interview.

“If some stores are closed, customers will be worried about whether others are open or not,” Nagamatsu said. “Maintaining an image that Seven-Eleven is open all year is essential for all stores.”

But in the face of requests from franchise stores for permission to close, the Seven & I Holdings Co. unit will close some directly operated stores in Tokyo on the upcoming New Year’s Day on a trial basis, to see the impact on sales and gauge the response from customers.

Nagamatsu also expressed the company’s eagerness to take steps to address labor shortages and promote work-style reforms.

Seven-Eleven recently started allowing stores to halt late-night or early-morning operations after the company recognized that it had failed to “respond to changes in society,” Nagamatsu said.

Currently, 35 Seven-Eleven outlets operate shorter hours and 380 stores are testing such operations.

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