Japanese convenience store Lawson refocusing on Bangkok for expansion

BANGKOK, NNA - Japanese convenience store chain operator Lawson Inc. is refocusing on Bangkok in its store expansion plan in Thailand, opening its 100th outlet in the country under a new concept aiming to boost brand recognition.

Saha Lawson Co., a joint venture with local consumer goods conglomerate Saha Group, launched "Lawson 108" on Jan. 31 in Bangkok's central district, its first ground-level store in about two years in the heart of the capital. It is planning to add 11 outlets in the area this year, according to Koichi Hirose, managing director of the joint venture.

The latest shop is a model for new stores to be opened this year, equipped with a "Lawson Cafe" corner providing freshly brewed coffee topped with ice cream. It also offers frozen beverages and lunch boxes with Japanese-style ingredients.

The company will put greater focus on central Bangkok rather than suburban areas as densely populated neighborhoods could help increase brand awareness among locals, especially office workers. "We will rebuild our brand," Hirose said.

The joint venture, in which the Tokyo-based firm holds a 49 percent stake and the local partner the remainder, has allocated 190 million baht ($6 million) for store expansion and renovation as well as online advertisements, planning to open a total of 30 outlets in Thailand this year.

Of the planned 30 shops, nine will be introduced in the compounds of Japanese firms' factories and 10 will be run by franchisees.

Saha Lawson had 99 outlets in the Southeast Asian country at the end of last year after adding 18 directly operated shops and six franchisee stores in 2017. It aims to more than double Lawson outlets to 208 in 2020. (NNA/Kyodo)