* Company sticks with record operating profit forecast
* Retailer boosting food offerings to lure consumers
* Expanding convenience store business
TOKYO, Jan 12 Seven & i Holdings Co on
Thursday posted a third-quarter operating profit gain helped by
robust food sales in its convenience store chain, putting
Japan's second biggest retailer on course for a record annual
Operating profit for the three months ended Nov. 30 rose 4.4
percent to 92.5 billion yen ($808.50 million), versus a profit
of 88.6 billion yen a year earlier, calculations based on the
retailer's nine-month results show.
Three analysts expected the retailer to post an operating
profit of 85.6 billion yen, Thomson Reuters data shows.
The retailer stuck with its operating profit forecast for
the year ending Feb. 28 of 353 billion yen, lagging an average
estimate of 355.2 billion yen by 16 analysts surveyed by Thomson
Seven & i has previously said that it was aiming to boost
its annual operating profit to 450 billion yen by the business
year ending Feb. 28, 2021.
To make that possible as retail demand remains tepid amid a
persistent economic malaise, the retailer is expanding food
offerings such as frozen meals, and offering higher quality
snacks and other food under its own brand.
While shuttering 40 general merchandising outlets and
expanding its Seven Eleven convenience store business, it also
plans to map buyers' shopping habits through loyalty cards and
tailor its offerings accordingly.
Two decades of a struggling economy have slashed consumer
demand in Japan. The country's core consumer prices marked a
ninth straight month of annual declines and household spending
slumped in November, suggesting slow wage growth was keeping
people from shopping.
($1 = 114.4100 yen)
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Joseph