International news: Lawson to open its first central China store

The store in Wuhan city, Hubei province, will be opened in spring 2016 (northern hemisphere) as the first Japanese convenience store to enter the central China region.

Lawson has signed an area license agreement with local retailer Zhongbai Supermarket. Under the area license agreement, Zhongbai will develop Lawson convenience stores that complement Wuhan consumers, capitalising on Lawson’s experience of store management and product development and the Zhongbai Group’s strong customer base across a network of 1,000 hypermarkets, supermarkets and department stores.

First, 10 Lawson stores will be opened in Wuhan in 2016. The reach will then be expanded to other parts of Hubei province, with a three-year target of 200 stores and a five-year target of 500 stores.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, has a population of about 10.5 million and is the biggest centre of commerce and industry in the central China region. Consumer lifestyles have changed as the region’s economy has developed, and, as a result, demand for convenience store products is expected to increase, especially among the younger generation. Lawson plans to expand to other provinces by teaming up with major local partners and offer greater convenience to consumers in central China.

Lawson opened its first store in China in Shanghai in 1996. By the end of December 2015, Lawson had expanded its network in China to 652 stores.

The company plans to accelerate its store expansion in China by exploiting the knowledge it has amassed in specific areas from investing and opening its own stores, and by signing area license agreements with strong local companies in areas where it has less experience. The Zhongbai Supermarket agreement represents the first such area license for Lawson.

As of December 2015, Lawson had 12,254 stores in Japan, 652 in China, 46 in Thailand, 38 in Indonesia, 16 in the Philippines and two in Hawaii.

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