TOKYO -- Seven & i Holdings, the parent of Seven-Eleven Japan, has vowed to change the way its convenience store chain does business after the struggles of franchisees provoked controversy.
Ryuichi Isaka, Seven & i's president, on Tuesday apologized for the way the chain's insistence on 24-hour operations caused concern earlier this year. "We will reconstruct our business model by limiting new store openings," Isaka said at the company's shareholders meeting.
Seven-Eleven previously said it would open 150 stores for the year through February 2020, marking its slowest expansion in 40 years. The company, which expects to log a record consolidated operating profit for the ninth straight year, aims to focus on strengthening support for existing stores.
While the chain is raking in money, Japan's serious labor shortage is pushing up operating costs and making it harder for franchisees to keep their stores open 24/7. When the issue first came to light, the company refused to relent, but it has since shown some flexibility about opening hours.
Seven-Eleven has tested shorter hours at a number of stores. The company is also aiming to address criticism over food waste by allowing stores to lower the prices of unsold bento lunches and other products nearing their expiry dates.