Japanese convenience store operator Lawson has booked a surge in year-to-date profits despite fierce competition in the convenience sector and a slowdown in the Japanese and world economies.

The company posted a 22.8% jump in net profit for the nine-months to 30 November, which rose to JPY23.1bn (US$254.3m), up from JPY18.85bn for the comparable period of last year.

Lawson said gains were driven by increased customer footfall, spurred by the introduction of cigarette vending machines, and favourable weather. Customer traffic increased by 6.3% during the period.

Operating revenues increased by 6.2%, climbing to JPY242bn. However, when increased cigarette sales were factored out, sales climbed just 1.6%.

During the period, Lawson opened 317 new outlets and closed 300 locations as it looked to manage its portfolio and offer the format best suited to local consumers. As a result, Lawson said daily sales at new stores grew "strongly".