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Japan's four largest retailers, Seven & i Holdings, Aeon, FamilyMart and Lawson, have posted their results for the first quarter.

Seven & i Holdings: total sales up 1.5%

Seven & i recorded a 1.5% increase in total group sales to JPY2,894.8bn (US$26.6bn), with operating profit rising 4.6% to JPY90.3bn (US$832.6m) year-on-year (yoy) for the three months ending 31 May. 

Domestic convenience store operations recorded a modest increase in revenue, up 1.1% yoy to JPY236.4bn (US$2.1bn). 7-Eleven Japan's key growth measure, existing store sales, increased 0.3% in the first quarter. This was despite a slight fall in customer numbers, offset by stronger average spending per customer. The retailer added 89 stores to its convenience network in Japan during the quarter, reaching 20,965 outlets.

Total store sales operations at 7-Eleven Inc (U.S and Canada) increased 2.8% to JPY893bn (US$8.2bn), driven by strong processed food, fast food and non-food sales. Gasoline sales, however, fell 0.7% to JPY449.5bn (US$4.1bn).

The retailer’s main supermarket banner, Ito-Yokado, posted decline in merchandise, lifestyle and foods sales yoy. This had a significant impact on consolidated superstore revenue, which fell 1.8% to JPY467.6bn (US$4.3bn).

Aeon: revenue up 1.3%

Aeon has posted a 1.3% increase in operating revenue to JPY2,130.9bn (US$19.6bn), with operating profit rising 6.7% to JPY42.2bn (US$389m) for the first quarter yoy. Operating revenue at both its General Merchandise Store and Supermarket operations were largely flat.

Operating revenue from operations in Japan increased 1.1% to JPY1,930.7bn (US$17.8bn). Growth was much stronger overseas for the retailer’s ASEAN business, with revenue rising 7.9% to JPY99.4bn (US$916.3m). Revenue from China was flat at JPY72.8bn (US$670.2m).

Aeon's Health & Wellness Business, which operates under Welcia Holdings Co., Ltd. continued to perform strongly. Operating revenue increased 10.5% to JPY214.2bn (US$1.9bn), supported by the addition of 35 net new stores during the first quarter (total network 1,913), as well as 5.9% LFL sales growth in existing stores.

FamilyMart: total store sales flat

FamilyMart posted total stores sales of JPY744.4bn (US$6.8bn) for the three months ended May 31, up 0.1% yoy. Operating profit was up 47.6% to JPY19.5bn (US$179m) yoy.  The retailer ended the first quarter with a total network of 23,820 stores, down 182, mainly due to store consolidation in Japan.

FamilyMart's largest overseas market, Taiwan (3,406 stores), posted a challenging set of results. Revenue fell 3.3% to JPY15.2bn (US$139.6m)  yoy, despite a net increase of 201 new stores.

This fiscal year, it will work towards four strategic pillars: enhancing support for franchised stores, strengthening the profitability of its stores, moving forward with the shift to digital, and promoting business collaboration with Pan Pacific International Holdings Corporation (PPIH).

There are approx. 1,000 FamilyMart stores in Japan equipped with self-checkout registers. Like its competitors, FamilyMart is also beginning to test different business operating hours for its stores. For its moving forward with the shift to digital strategy, the retailer recently launched the FamiPay smartphone app, which uses the Group’s digital FamiPay electronic money. In addition to T-POINT, which can be used for shopping already, FamilyMart plans to introduce d POINT and Rakuten Point in November.  

An increasing number of operators in Japan have announced environmental-friendly policies and FamilyMart is no different. It hopes to reduce food waste by developing its products so they can have a longer shelf live. It has also shifted to a reservation only system for Doyo no Ushi (eel), which is a seasonal product.

The merger of FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co., Ltd. and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. to FamilyMart Co., Ltd is still expected to go ahead and effective from September 1, 2019.

Lawson: revenue up 4.9%

Lawson has recorded a 12.4% increase in operating profit to JPY14.2bn (US$131.3m) for the three months ending May 2018. Operating revenue increased 4.9% to JPY178.8bn (US$1.6bn) and consolidated net sales of convenience stores increased 5.6% to JPY623.8bn (US$5.7bn) yoy.

In the first quarter, existing-store-sales in Japan increased 1.3% yoy. This was mainly driven by stronger average spend per customer, with improved evening and night time product ranges popular.

The Group increased its total stores network by 174 stores to 17,043 in the first quarter. Expansion was mainly in China (net 146 stores to 2,153), the retailer’s second largest market. Just outside the reported period, (in June 2019) Lawson became the first Japanese convenience store operator to enter Hunan province, opening five stores in Changsha.

Last month, Lawson launched the Another Choice program at its stores in Ehime and Okinawa prefectures. The initiative aims to both reduce food loss and donate food to children in need. Under the program, Lawson awards Ponta members and d point card members points on purchasing products approaching their sell-by dates, and donates 5% of the total purchase to initiatives that support children.

Looking ahead, Lawson remains committed to introducing initiatives to make store operations more efficient, and is introducing self-cash register and smartphone cash register facilities at its stores.

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Seven-Eleven Japan has opened 14 stores in Okinawa today (11 July 2019), the only Japanese prefecture where the retailer's presence is missing.

Increasing competition in Okinawa…

The 14 new stores that have opened today are mainly concentrated in the southern part of the prefecture's main Okinawa Island, where a large proportion of residents are based.

Seven-Eleven Japan plans to open as many as 250 stores in the next five years. Its key competitors, FamilyMart and Lawson have been trading in Okinawa for many years, opening their first stores in the prefecture in 1987 and 1997 respectively. As of the end of June, there were 325 FamilyMart stores and 233 Lawson stores in the region.

Localised offer essential

Seven & i Holdings, parent of Seven-Eleven Japan, has opened two factories in Okinawa so that it can manufacture products tailored to local tastes. It has already launched 13 new products based on local favourites, including a pork and fried egg rice ball and taco rice styled options. Both FamilyMart and Lawson work with local businesses to develop products catered to consumers in Okinawa.

Strengthening coverage and private label

Seven-Eleven Japan first announced its plans to enter Okinawa just over two years ago. The move not only helps boost the retailer’s domestic coverage, but also play a role as a ‘transportation hub’ for expanding sales of its private label products across Asia.

Lazada, the leading ecommerce platform in Southeast Asia, will launch a 24-hour Mid-Year Festival on July 12 across all its six markets.

One-day sale designed to bring new tagline to life

The sale is themed “Millions of deals your heart desires” in line with its refreshed brand idea “Go where your heart beats”. The new shopping event creates more fun for shoppers and encourages them to pursue their hearts’ desires. Lazada is offering attractive deals such as millions of vouchers to be given away throughout the day with participating sellers.

 “Introducing our new Mid-Year Festival during a traditionally quieter shopping season presents more chances in a year for us to bring excitement to shoppers and provide our sellers more opportunities to boost their performance,” said Jing Yin, president of Lazada Group.

“Shoppertainment” to deepen shopper engagement

The retailer will host its first region-wide live-streamed game show as part of this festival. The 30-minute in-app show will be hosted by a local personality giving clues for viewers to guess the price of products. More than 4,000 products will be featured in 672 shows. Many of these are newly launched and special edition items.

“Our professionally-generated Guess It content offers a new way to feature brands and sellers, while increasing in-app consumer dwell time and purchase,” said Mary Zhou, CMO of Lazada Group. 

 

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Yonghui has launched a new format, Market Life, in Shanghai’s Pudong District.

Focusing on local cuisine and culture

The new store, located in Sanlin yinxiang cheng (INCITY mall), operates approx. 4,000 sq m retail space. It focuses on fresh food to meet the lifestyles of urban shoppers. Market Life combines traditional market culture with modern farmer's market decor. The foodservice counters, for example, focus on Shanghainese cuisine and flavours. Market Life is also connected to the Yonghui Life App, allowing customers to enjoy Yonghui’s convenient delivery service.

Second new format this year…

Market Life is the second new format launched by Yonghui this year. The other is Mini Store, a much smaller format operating about 700 sq m, positioned to serve communities. Fresh food accounts for more than 60% of the store. 

Balancing growth and profitability

While Yonghui is one of the fastest growing retailers in China, profitability in some areas remain a challenge. The retailer continues to develop new formats to drive growth, but inevitably some banners are more profitable than others.

In its most recent annual results, it no longer reported its Super Species operations despite multiple stores still trading. Yonghui has, however, recently closed its flagship Super Species Shanghai Wujiaochang Wanda store.

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