Lawson Japan expecting profit turnaround

Japanese convenience store chain Lawson is expecting a 4 per cent growth in net profit for its half-year to August, defying a projected 7 per cent decline.

Lawson Japan attributes the swing to strong sales of salads and other private-label items. Lower costs for store closings also appear to have helped.

The Tokyo-based retailer says it expects to report a group net profit of around ¥23.5 billion (US$208 million) instead of the ¥21 billion it forecast in July.

Gross operating revenue is likely to rise 7 per cent to nearly ¥330 billion. The operating profit is predicted to ease 3 per cent at nearly ¥39 billion. Lawson had projected a 6 per cent drop.

In-house products, which have higher profit margins, have helped boost revenue. Lawson sold out all 2.5 million servings of a cream roll cake in just two weeks, part of a new line of sweets introduced in June.

The chain also found success with its salad offerings, which it increased from 16 to 26 in response to consumer health consciousness.

Same-store sales rose 1 per cent on the year during the half. Meanwhile, the chain closed about 150 locations, a third fewer than in the year-earlier period.

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