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FamilyMart Co. President Takashi Sawada has said the convenience store operator will increase the number of its outlets with Amazon Hub parcel lockers sevenfold, to about 350, by the fiscal year through February 2022.

“We’ll do what allows our franchise stores to earn more without spending (on) labor,” Sawada said in a recent interview.

Since autumn last year, in hope of attracting more customers, FamilyMart has installed the Amazon Hub lockers at around 50 stores for customers to pick up items they purchase through Amazon Japan G.K.’s online shopping services.

The company’s decision to set up substantially more Amazon Hub lockers comes at a time when FamilyMart stores have been seeing numbers of shoppers falling, while demand for online shopping has been increasing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The next two to three years will be crucial for us,” Sawada said. “We want to increase our earnings with the utilization of digital technologies,” the president added, expressing FamilyMart’s eagerness to expand use of its FamiPay e-money app.

Sawada noted that extending the store network while the market is shrinking would surely to lead to lower productivity. FamilyMart may close some of its outlets in central Tokyo that are paying high rents but are having trouble recovering from sales slumps, he said.

Since the current fiscal year started in March, FamilyMart has been implementing a project in which the headquarters takes over operations of low-performing franchise stores, rebuilding their businesses and then returning them to franchise owners. Of some 200 such outlets currently under the rehabilitation program, about a half are expected to be handed back to franchise operators by the end of February next year.

“Performance has clearly improved at the majority of these outlets, and a good number of them can be returned to franchise owners,” Sawada said.

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