Seven-Eleven opens 1st stores in Okinawa

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A Seven-Eleven Japan store is crowed with customers in Naha on Thursday.

Jiji Press NAHA (Jiji Press) — Seven-Eleven Japan Co. opened its first Okinawa Prefecture outlets Thursday, now operating convenience stores in all of the country’s 47 prefectures.

The Seven & i Holdings Co. unit plans to set up a total of about 250 shops on the main island of the prefecture.

Okinawa had been the only prefecture still without a Seven-Eleven Japan store since the convenience store giant opened its first outlets in Tottori Prefecture in October 2015.

On Thursday, a total of 14 Seven-Eleven Japan stores were launched in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, and other municipalities in the prefecture.

“To our dear customers in Okinawa, thank you for waiting,” Kenji Hisanabe, president of Seven-Eleven Okinawa Co., the operator of the Okinawa stores, told about 200 people who were waiting in front of one of the stores in Naha ahead of its opening.

Among items on sale are local specialties available exclusively at the Okinawa stores, such as “goya chanpuru don,” a bowl of rice with a stir fry dish using goya bitter melon, and “jushi gohan,” a seasoned rice dish.

The move by Seven-Eleven Japan is expected to ramp up competition among major convenience store operators, as industry rivals FamilyMart Co. and Lawson Inc. already run 200-plus and 300-plus stores, respectively, in the island prefecture.

Seven-Eleven Japan stores in Okinawa use special shelves that automatically slide items such as bento boxed meals and rice balls to the fore as part of measures to reduce the labor needed for replenishment as the distribution industry in the prefecture, like its counterparts elsewhere across the country, is facing a serious labor shortage.Speech

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