Japan-based convenience retailer Lawson Inc has reported record nine-month profits despite a dip in sales.

Net profit was up 6.7% at JPY30.4bn (US$290.2bn), with operating profit 2.4% higher at JPY54.7bn. Lawson pointed to the gains from its "efficient store-opening strategy".

The launch of freshly-brewed coffee and investment in food ingredients to be prepared and eaten at home boosted margins.

However, the lines failed offset weak cigarette sales, which meant gross operating revenue dipped 0.6% to JPY370.04bn.

Lawson opened 294 stores in Japan during the period, taking its estate to 11,270 outlets. It also opened 35 stores overseas, including its first in outlets in Beijing and in Thailand. However, Lawson has closed 20 stores in Indonesia, where it now has 83.

The retailer stuck to its forecasts of a 8.2% increase in net income to JPY35.9bn, for operating income to grow 5.7% to JPY70bn and for revenue to rise 3.2% to JPY503bn.