TOKYO -- Japan's top general retailer, Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., said on Thursday that it aims to expand its 7-Eleven chain in the United States and may seek acquisitions there, reported Reuters. Seven & i is looking to add more than 600 stores in the United States through next March.
"We want to expand aggressively in America including through [mergers and acquisitions]," Seven & i president Noritoshi Murata said during a press briefing.
Seven & i forecast a second straight year of record profit as the company targets a broader demographic to drive domestic convenience store sales.
C-store operators increased sales last year as Japanese consumers snapped up food and daily supplies in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. To keep these customers coming back, the retailers expanded product lineups with new offerings such as cooking oil, fresh vegetables and rolled sponge cake, appealing to a wider range of customers than the young men who typically frequent c-stores there.
Many Japanese retailers are poised to post record profits for the business year that just ended following higher demand for food and consumer goods, particularly higher-margin prepared meals and private-label products.
Seven & i president Noritoshi Murata said during the briefing that it was important to continue developing new products to target changing Japanese demographics as the population ages and more people live in single- or two-person households.
In addition, smaller sized dishes on 7-Eleven store shelves are luring elderly people and female customers, as the nation's population ages and the number of working women increases, a Dow Jones report added.
The owner of Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., the world's largest c-store chain, forecast a 7.9% rise in operating profit to 315 billion yen ($3.8 billion) for the year that began in March, slightly higher than the average projections.
"The profitability of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan is growing," said Murata.
Taking advantage of potential demand, the company opened 1,201 new 7-Eleven stores in Japan--a record for Seven & i--and shut 428 stores in the just-ended year, bringing the total number in Japan to 14,005 as of February 29. It also aims to open 1,350 new stores--another record--in the current fiscal year ending February 2013.