Find out about the retailer's strategic priorities, commercial focus areas, channel and country presence.

See data on the retailer’s performance and forecasts for its operations by channel.

This in-depth guide to Japan explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

We review Seven & i's retail outlook over the next five years and the key markets to watch, as it continues to expand around the world.

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7-Eleven is testing trial facial recognition payment at one of its stores in Tokyo this month.

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South Korea’s FTC (Fair Trade Commission) approved a set of voluntary rules agreed by convenience store operators to better protect struggling franchisees.

Minimum distance between stores

Five members of the Korea Association of Convenience Store Industry, CU, GS25, 7-ELEVEN, MINISTOP, C-SPACE and Emart24, came up with a voluntary agreement to curb excessive competition.

A key centerpieceof the agreement is that stores of rival brands should be at least 50 metres away from each other. This is the first time the convenience stores have set the minimum distance since 2000.

Move to ease market saturation

FTC’s approval will see the voluntary agreement to be applied to to 96% (38,000) of convenience stores nationwide.

The number of convenience stores has risen sharply to at least 40,000 last year, driven by an increase of single-member and two-people households.

Kim Sang-jo, chairman of the FTC, said the regulations could ease saturation and prevent reckless new openings in areas where there are already many existing stores.

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Quarterly revenue improved by 1% from previous year.

Positive expectations for remainder of 2018

7-Eleven Malaysia reported third quarter earnings of MYR568.5m, driven by its increased store network, a higher average spend from shoppers and targeted promotion activities. The improvement in sales revenues also boosted net profits by 4.1% to MYR16.8m.

Moving into the end of the year, the retailer foresees a sustained momentum and expects trading as well as gross margins to improve further. This will be achieved through a focussed execution of key strategies.  

It is targeting to boost sales of private label products by increasing the range and assortment. The other focus for 7-Eleven is developing its fresh food category as well as rationalising its existing product portfolio to maintain a profitable product mix.

Colin Harvey, CEO 7-Eleven Malaysia said, “We expect to see further improvements in the next quarter by pursuing our core strategy pillars of operations excellence, cost management and commercial innovation. I look forward to the challenges ahead in ensuring that 7-Eleven Malaysia remains the customers first choice convenience store.”


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7-Eleven is trialling an unmanned locker service called Seven Locker in Seoul, South Korea.

Profit-generating initiative

The service is part of company’s initiatives to diversify operations and generate more profits for its convenience stores.

The lockers will be set up near tourist attractions and entertainment areas where there is demand for such services among locals and visitors. Depending on the size of the space, storage fees will range from KRW2,000 (US$1.8) to KRW4,000 for a four-hour period.

The plan going forward

The trial starts with two stores in Seoul’s Hongdae and Jongno districts, with another eight to open by end of 2018. Further 100 lockers are planned to be placed at 7-Eleven stores across the country in the first half of 2019. The service is to be extended to all key stores.

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The three leading convenience store chains in Japan are facing increasing challenges to hiring staff for their stores. Labour shortages driven by the country's ageing population is deepening and retailers opening new stores require new workers.

Discounts and benefits for workers

The current approach for many convenience store operators is to incentivise workers with benefits and discounts. The average wage for convenience staff is around JPY1,000 an hour, but varies based on location in the country.

Seven & i Holdings, which operates over 20,600 7-Eleven stores in Japan, opened a day care centre for employees on the second floor of a store in the northern city of Sendai in July. In April 2017, it began offering workers discounts on hotels and travel services.

The second largest CVS chain in the country, FamilyMart, is partnering with Iris Ohyama to offer part-time workers nationwide discounts of up to 60% on rice cookers and other appliances. While Lawson, which operates more than 14,300 stores, offers its employees discounts on DVDs and books, serviced by the retailer's subsidiary companies.

Automation part of the solution

At an recent exhibition, Lawson launched an unstaffed store concept, featuring a robot that can prepare food as per customer preferences, e.g. cook gyoza dumplings. About a year and half ago, we covered how Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is backing the introduction of RFID technology in retail. Since then, we have seen Japanese retailers in different industries trial this technology. Retailers are now working harder to retain and attract new employees, but also promote automation to drive efficiencies in-store.

We've developed a single, universal methodology for calculating food and consumer goods retail data, supported by our programme of primary and secondary research. This makes Datacentre the most reliable and robust source available for data of this type. 

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