(Combines Seven and I and FamilyMart details, adds context on
TOKYO, July 3 Japan's Seven and I Holdings Co
Ltd, owner of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain,
posted a 9.5 percent rise in first-quarter profit which was its
highest on record for the traditionally dull March-May period.
Japan's biggest convenience store operator, buoyed by an
expansion of its store network, left its full-year operating
profit forecast for the year to February unchanged at a record
340 billion yen ($3.41 billion), in line with forecasts.
Japanese convenience store operators are now reaping the
rewards of aggressively opening new outlets in recent years and
taking business from supermarkets by expanding their lineup of
prepared foods and private-label products.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive monetary and fiscal
stimulus policies, and a rallying stock market, have also
spurred consumer spending, but the benefits to the retail sector
have so far centred on high-end department stores.
Seven and I's Sogo and Seibu department stores account for
only a tiny share of its profit.
FamilyMart Co Ltd, the third-largest convenience
store operator, on Thursday also left its operating profit
forecast for the year to next February unchanged at 45.1 billion
yen, while profit for its first quarter fell 6.9 percent.
Seven and I has been generating annual record profits for
two years, but the first-quarter result marked its first record
high for that specific period since 2007.
Seven and I's shares ended flat before the earnings
announcement. They have surged nearly 60 percent since
mid-November when the Japanese market began rallying, in line
with the benchmark Nikkei average's 62 percent rise.
FamilyMart is up a more modest 21 percent over the same period.
($1 = 99.6950 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu; Writing by Edmund Klamann;
Editing by Miral Fahmy)