Saha group says Japan's Lawson stores in Thailand to rise to 1,000

BANGKOK, June 26 (Reuters) - A joint venture of Thailand’s Saha Pathanapibul Pcl and Japan’s Lawson Inc aims to boost the number of ‘Lawson 108’ outlets in the Southeast Asian nation to 1,000 over the next three years from 40 now, a Saha executive said on Friday.

Saha Pat, part of Saha Group, Thailand’s largest consumer products conglomerate, joined hands with Lawson, one of Japan’s top- three convenience store chains, to form joint venture Saha Lawson Co in 2012 to tap the Thai retail market.

Saha Lawson will focus on fresh-cooked and ready to eat products, Saha Pat’s director Vathit Chokwatana told a conference. He did not reveal any investment numbers by the partners.

Lawson is one of several Japanese retailers expanding business in Thailand, despite the Southeast Asian nation’s weak domestic consumption and slowing economy. Others include Tokyu Department Store and MaxValu supermarket, owned by AEON group.

Lawson competes directly with CP All Pcl, Thailand’s largest convenience store chain with more than 8,000 7-Eleven outlets, and Family Mart, owned by Central Group, Thailand’s leading retailer. (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)