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Report: Japan's Lawson eyes U.S. drug stores
July 12th, 2013
NEW YORK – Japan-based convenience store operator Lawson Inc. reportedly is angling to invest in or buy drug stores in the United States and Europe.
A Bloomberg report this week said the Tokyo-based retailer, Japan's second-largest convenience store chain, is targeting health-focused consumers and aims to create one-stop shops offering healthful foods, dietary supplements and medications.
Chief executive officer Takeshi Niinami said in an interview with Bloomberg, "We see more business opportunity if we can absorb the know-how of U.S. or European drug stores and put it into practice in Japan and China."
He said Lawson hasn't engaged in any talks with potential acquisition targets, according to the Bloomberg report.
Last week, in Lawson's fiscal 2013 first-quarter report, Niinami cited the "aging society" and the company's opening of a flagship store that "supports a healthier life for customers."
Lawson has about 11,200 stores in Japan and 460 foreign outlets, including 100 health-focused Natural Lawson locations, said the Bloomberg report. Approximately 80 outlets offer drugs as well.
The two largest U.S. drug store chains, Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Co., already have invested in overseas operations.
In February, CVS closed a deal to acquire Drogaria Onofre, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based retail drug chain with 44 stores.
And Walgreens jumped into the international market last summer with a deal to buy a 45% equity stake in Alliance Boots, a global pharmacy and health and beauty aids retailer. Walgreens closed the the first step of the two-phase agreement last August. Under the agreement, Walgreens has the option to acquire the remaining 55% of Alliance Boots in about three years for $9.5 billion in cash and stock. The companies formed a Switzerland-based joint venture, Walgreens Boots Alliance Development GmbH, in October.