Sales at Japan’s convenience stores appear to be surging ahead of supermarket sales, with the nation’s largest convenience operators releasing strong financial results yesterday (12 April).

Lawson posted a net profit of JPY22.03bn (US$5.7m) in the year to February, the Japanese Times reported. The Tokyo-based firm said that its new chain aimed at women, Natural Lawson, and its perishable food chain, Lawson Store 100, has helped attract customers who normally shun convenience stores.

Seven & I Holdings, the holding firm who operate Seven-Eleven in Japan, Ito-Yokado supermarkets and Denny’s Japan, posted pretax profits of JPY248.11bn on sales of JPY3.9 trillion in the 2006 business year.

Earnings for its convenience business came to JPY2.02 trillion, up 11.6% from the previous year. Its supermarket business only posted year-on-year increases of 2.8% to JPY1.69 trillion.

Struggling supermarket chain Daiei, which includes financial and real estate interests, reported a net profit of JPY413.16bn, revising a net lost of JPY2.96bn last year. However, when the supermarket operations are considered in isolation, Daiei posted a pretax loss of JPY2.96bn – down from a pretax profit of JPY5.33bn a year earlier.