While 23 companies operate stores under their own brands, the number of new stores launched by chains outside the big five fell by nearly half in fiscal 2013 -- a sign of the mortal combat many have found themselves in.
Gaps in profitability are widening among the big players. Average daily sales per store came to 664,000 yen at Seven-Eleven, against just 542,000 yen for Lawson locations and 521,000 yen for FamilyMart stores. Seven-Eleven's lead over Lawson grew 1,000 yen from the year before. With average daily per-store sales of 457,000 yen, Circle K Sunkus trailed Seven-Eleven by more than 200,000 yen.
March brought the news that a different operating company would convert about 100 stores in Kyoto, Nara and elsewhere into Lawsons. Even among the top three players, Seven-Eleven's momentum stands out. In fiscal 2013, Same-store sales for Lawson and FamilyMart each fell short of the previous fiscal year's figures. Seven-Eleven, by contrast, logged a 23rd straight month of increases in June. The chain's growth is driven by its ability to develop private-label products and other items.
Seven-Eleven began selling last month a Coca-Cola offering developed exclusively for its stores, marking the beverage company's first time making a product specifically for a retailer in Japan. The Japanese giant apparently approached the American partner with the idea for such products several years ago, only to be turned down. "They were convinced by Seven-Eleven's overwhelming sales volume," says an official from another major convenience store operator. "It would have been impossible for another chain, including ours."
(Nikkei Asian Review)