Japan’s Lawson plans new Asia entry in August
Lawson Inc, Japan’s No.2 convenience store chain, said on Monday it plans to open a store in a third city in China in August, as it steps up overseas expansion. Takeshi Niinami, the firm’s president and CEO, told the Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit in Tokyo that the company is also getting ready to open its first store in a Southeast Asian country.
He declined to give name of either the Chinese city or the Asian country, citing ongoing negotiations, but the company has said Vietnam, India and Indonesia are markets of interest given their rapid economic growth.
Currently, Lawson, which trails industry leader Seven & I, has about 310 stores in two Chinese cities, Shanghai and Chongqing, in addition to about 10,000 in Japan.
“We would want to enter Europe and the United States eventually,” Niinami said. “We want to be where population is growing. In that sense, I guess it’s the United States and especially the East Coast,” he said.
Niinami, 52, started his career at Mitsubishi Corp, which has a 32 percent stake in Lawson, and became president of the convenience store operator in 2002.
He said further consolidation is inevitable in Japan’s convenience store industry, and only the top two players would be able to survive.
He also said the wave of the consolidation is likely to go beyond the sector and his firm is also interested in acquiring pharmacies.