Japanese convenience store operator Lawson has said it plans to open around 200 new stores in China by the end of next year while also lowering its stake in its Chinese operations.

Lawson spokesman Katsumi Kawai said the design of the outlets would be different to that of the company’s existing 103 stores in China in a bid to increase their appeal to local customers.

“We want to expand our network mainly in Shanghai and the surrounding areas,” Kawai was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

Lawson said it realised its existing Chinese stores, run through a joint venture with China’s Hualian Group, were more suited to the needs of Japanese customers than Chinese customers.

The Japanese company now plans to lower its stake in the joint venture from 70% to 49% to give Hualian the controlling share.

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“By giving our Chinese partner more control, we think we can make our stores more attractive to Chinese customers,” Kawai said.  

Lawson operates 7,621 convenience stores in Japan.