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FamilyMart to trim 10% of staff in Japan to reduce bloat

Convenience store chain extends more financial aid to struggling franchises

FamilyMart will increase monetary aid to franchisees to deal with Japan's labor shortage.

TOKYO -- Convenience store operator FamilyMart will shed about 800 jobs, or about 10% of its Japanese workforce, to address inefficiencies following a series of mergers and acquisitions.

Severance packages will be offered to volunteers by February under plans announced Thursday, generally targeting those 40 and older.

FamilyMart Uny Holdings changed its name to FamilyMart this September following a merger with a subsidiary. It was born from the 2016 merger of the old FamilyMart and Uny Group Holdings.

The company had roughly 18,000 convenience stores in Japan at the end of September 2016. It had lowered the count to 16,500 as of this past Oct. 31 after culling unprofitable locations. Voluntary retirements were not sought in the intervening years.

"We got bigger after the repeated consolidations, but we have yet to streamline," President Takashi Sawada told reporters Thursday.

The staff cuts will be carried out in parallel with measures drawn up to support franchisees. A lack of workers has made it difficult for certain stores to stay open around the clock.

Contracts will be revised to grant franchisees a pathway to set shorter operating hours from March, FamilyMart said. The changes will have to be discussed with corporate headquarters, but Sawada promised flexibility.

"Even if there isn't an agreement with the home office, we will respond in accordance with the intent of what member stores decide," he said.

Franchise stores staying open 24 hours a day will receive additional financial support, as will owners running multiple stores or renewing contracts.

Aid will total an annual 10 billion yen ($91.8 million) or so, or an average of roughly 700,000 yen per store, according to FamilyMart.

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