Lawson stores are beginning to sweep across third and fourth-tier cities in China.
Store expansion will significantly boost coverage
According to Nikkei Asian Review, Lawson is planning to expand its network to about 6,000 stores by 2022, and 10,000 by 2025. We expect the retailer to continue to enter new provinces and cities to grow its presence in China.
Lawson stores are operated by several different Lawson subsidiaries and franchise agreements based on geographical location and region. Lawson was the first Japanese convenience operator to Hunan (Changsha) and Liaoning (Shenyang) provinces last year.
As of 31 August, Lawson had 2,854 stores in China:
- Shanghai and surround area: 1,594
- Chongqing: 284
- Dalian: 219
- Beijing and surrounding area: 180
- Shenyang: 53
- Wuhan: 414
- Hefei: 73
- Changsha: 37
Lawson has launched many innovations in China, e.g. micro stores. It is the second largest market for the retailer by far (third largest market is Thailand where it trades 140 stores), and will become even more important as growth in Japan slows down. FamilyMart and Lawson are the two largest foreign-owned convenience chains in China.
Lawson would not be the first to expand quickly...
Only three convenience chains in China hold national coverage, e.g. Sinopec, Meiyijia and uSmile. All three trade more than 20,000 locations. Lawson’s target in China is ambitious, but not unachievable. Meiyijia, for example, has opened more than 10,000 stores in the last three years. After the big three, Dongguan-based Tianfu, is the next largest convenience chain in the market, trading over 5,300 stores.
Subscribers can read more about Lawson and its strategic priorities here.