Seven-Eleven to tap into markets in Okinawa

May 19, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The world’s largest convenience store operator Seven-Eleven, Inc. plans to tap into markets in Okinawa. The company is negotiating with Okinawan companies about affiliating, building stores, and acquiring factories.

Seven-Eleven is targeting Okinawa as a new market because it is one of the few prefectures with rising populations and robust individual consumption. The company is asking the stores franchised by other convenience store operators to be franchised by Seven-Eleven. The number of convenience stores in Okinawa is over 500, which meets current demand. Seven-Eleven has already opened over 100 stores in each prefecture. Its arrival in Okinawa will spur competition between convenience store operators.

A representative from the Okinawa distribution industry said, “Seven-Eleven carried out market research for Okinawa a long time ago. The company predetermined to tap into markets in Okinawa. We expected Seven-Eleven to open stores in March. It’s just a matter of time.”

Seven-Eleven usually concentrates on specific locations to open stores for increasing efficiency of distribution. The company plans to start operating several dozen stores in the near future in Okinawa.

The company plans to build its own factories in Okinawa in order to standardize food products nationwide. According to the representative, Seven Eleven’s partner production companies have been looking for properties in Okinawa for many years.

Several companies in Okinawa have tried to get a stake in store management, however the company says all stores will be operated by mainland-based Seven Eleven.

Currently the convenience store market is shared between Okinawa, Okinawa FamilyMart, which holds 46.2 percent of the total, LAWSON Okinawa, Inc. with 32.8 per cent and Coco Convenience Store with 20.8 percent.

Seven-Eleven’s venture into Okinawa could mean that these companies have more competition. At the end of April, Seven-Eleven has 16,450 stores nationwide.

Among the major convenience store operators in Japan, Seven-Eleven is the only company that has not opened stores in every prefecture. It has not tapped into markets in four prefectures, including Okinawa, Aomori, and Totori, Kochi. The company plans to open stores in Kochi. Toshifumi Suzuki, a chairperson of Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd. a holding company of Seven-Eleven, said stores would open in Aomori in the near future.

(English translation by T&CT)

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