Seven & I Holdings Co. has confirmed plans to convert 20 of its Ito-Yokado supermarkets to the new The Price discount supermarket format by the end of 2009.

The Price was launched on an experimental basis and Japan's top retailer said today (10 March) that it was pleased with the performance of the two discounted stores it had opened in Chiba, near Tokyo.

"Sales grew by about 50%. The success of the first two stores suggests we will be focusing more on such stores in the future," a Seven & I spokesperson told just-food.

Prices for goods sold at The Price are 10-30% cheaper than in Ito-Yokado outlets.

In order to cut costs, Seven & I employs more western-style operational controls: part-timers are hired over full-time staff and food is bought directly from producers.

The 20 additional stores will be mainly located in the Tokyo area, the company said.