Japanese convenience store retailer Lawson Inc has reported higher half-year profits.

Lawson booked a 6.6% increase in net profit to JPY19bn for the six months to the end of August.

The bottom line was helped by lower one-off charges year-on-year but Lawson also booked a 3.1% rise in operating profit to JPY35.6bn.

Sales fell 0.3% to JPY249bn due, Lawson said, to weak cigarette sales as the number of smokers in Japan fell. However, an increase in sales of “high-value-added” products, including in-store prepared foods, helped margins, Lawson said.

By 31 August, Lawson had 11,201 stores in Japan and a further 458 in overseas markets. In the first half of the year, Lawson opened its first stores in Beijing and in Thailand.