In good news for communities in danger of losing a major retailer, the chairman and CEO of Seven & i Holdings Co. told The Asahi Shimbun that an earlier plan to close some of its Ito-Yokado supermarkets has been put on hold.
"We have been scrapping Ito-Yokado stores, but we are going back on the offensive," Toshifumi Suzuki said on Dec. 27.
Ito-Yokado is a major supermarket chain under the umbrella of Seven & i Holdings. As of November 2011, there were 176 stores in the chain operating in Japan and 13 more overseas.
The suspension of the downsizing measure came after management concluded that the company is now firmly back on its feet.
After the business performance of the Ito-Yokado chain began to falter due to an increasing number of underperforming stores, a downsizing plan was drawn up, which consisted of closing about 30 stores from 2009. About 20 stores have since been closed.
However, business performance has stayed robust during the current fiscal term. The operating profit for the term that ends in February 2012 is projected at 12 billion yen ($154 million), more than quintuple the corresponding figure for the previous term.
At two Ito-Yokado stores in Nagano Prefecture that had been considered candidates for closure, an about-face in policy and refurbishment led to stronger-than-expected sales. Refurbishment is also planned at a number of other stores, including the Sendai Izumi store in Miyagi Prefecture, where strong sales figures following the Great East Japan Earthquake led to the cancellation of a planned closure.
Investment in Ito-Yokado stores will increase 20-30 percent from the current fiscal term, Suzuki said.
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