SAHA LAWSON, the Thai-Japanese joint venture and operator of Lawson 108 and 108Shop convenience stores, plans to double the number of Lawson 108 outlets to more than 200 by 2020, said managing director Koichi Hirose.
He said Lawson 108 has operated in Thailand for five years and the company had opened the 100th Lawson 108 store yesterday at Talad Muang Thai Phatra on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok.
The new outlet will be enhanced as the company’s flagship store featuring new images and deluxe decor. The store will carry many new products and services, such as the first Lawson Cafe, Snow Drink, and the new-look Lawson 108 Burger-Sandwich and Bento.
“We plan to open more stores over the next three years,” said Hirose, who became the company’s managing director in October last year.
He added that the number of Lawson 108 convenience stores would be increased to 123 stores by the end of 2018, 158 by 2019 and 208 by 2020 – at a total cost of Bt540 million.
The company is also operating 126 convenience stores under the brand 108Shop and some of them will be converted to Lawson 108.
He said the company expected sales revenue to increase to Bt2.4 billion this year, up from Bt2.2 billion last year. Of the sales revenue last year, about Bt1.2 billion came from Lawson 108, with another Bt963 million from 108Shop stores.
Hirose said that the company is also studying the expansion of Lawson convenience stores beyond Thailand to neighbouring countries.
“We plan to expand our business into other countries in the region. We’re studying the market potential of neighbouring countries and will collaborate with our strategic partners to strengthen our brand in order to become a leader in the convenience store market in the region,” he said.
Hirose said that the key challenge the company faces today is how to manage merchandising displays to ensure the utmost convenience for its customers.
“The 100th store opening today will be the model on how to solve the problem. For future challenge, it’s about opening more flagship stores nationwide to meet the needs of our customers,” he said yesterday.
To speed up the expansion of Lawson 108 stores, Hirose said the company has entered into a franchise agreement with Susco, citing trust and confidence in their professionalism.
“We expect to expand local franchising soon. Right now, we’re conducting a survey and studying the possibility of that strategy. At the same time, we’re improving the efficiency of our service to keep up with the rapidly rising and changing customer demands,” he said.
“There’s still plenty of room for the Thai convenience store market to grow. Meanwhile, convenience store brands including Lawson are focusing on store expansion and outsourcing new products,” he added
Hirose said Saha Lawson currently holds a 20 per cent share in the Thai convenience store market. There are approximately 13,000 convenience stores around Thailand operated by various brands. Of that, there are 100 Lawson 108 stores and 125 108Shop stores. “We keep up with the Japanese standard and work closely with Sahapat to meet the needs of Thai customers. We also have staff guidelines to ensure the same procedure is followed and that everyone is moving in the same direction.” Hirose said.