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7-Eleven and Lawson Plan 10,000 New Stores in Asia-Pacific by 2026

Expansion targets Southeast Asia's growing middle class, with Japan's convenience giants aiming to outpace local and international competition
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7-Eleven and Lawson, Japan’s leading convenience store chains, are set to aggressively expand in the Asia-Pacific region, opening a combined total of 10,000 new stores by February 2026. This expansion comes as the domestic market in Japan nears saturation, pushing these companies to seek growth opportunities in other Asian markets, particularly in Southeast Asia.

According to Nikkei, the expansion plans of Seven & i Holdings (operating 7-Eleven) and Lawson anticipate increasing their total store count in the Asia-Pacific to over 63,000, up from approximately 53,000. This expansion contrasts starkly with their modest growth in Japan, where they expect to open just over 100 new stores in the same period.

Seven & i Holdings currently operates around 46,000 stores across Asia-Pacific through licensing agreements with local partners. The company’s strategy includes adding about 3,600 stores to its network outside Japan, aiming for a total of 50,000 stores in Asia.

Lawson’s strategy is even more aggressive. The company plans to open approximately 6,800 new stores in China and Southeast Asia, effectively doubling its Asian presence to around 13,000 stores.

This expansion leverages the rising economic status of Southeast Asian countries. With many surpassing the $3,000 per capita GDP mark, a threshold indicative of convenience store market expansion, the region offers significant growth potential. The Southeast Asian market, growing at a double-digit annual rate, presents substantial opportunities with its lower number of outlets per capita compared to Japan.

While Japanese chains face stiff competition abroad, including from each other, FamilyMart’s recent withdrawal from Thailand highlights the challenges they face. Nevertheless, FamilyMart remains committed to overseas expansion, with plans to refocus efforts in markets like Malaysia and Taiwan.

Competing with local players like China’s Meiyijia Holdings, which operates around 30,000 stores, Japanese convenience store chains are preparing to navigate a competitive landscape, leveraging their experience in service and product quality to establish a strong foothold in the rapidly growing convenience store sector in Asia-Pacific.

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