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    Convenience Industry Scores High on List of Innovators

    Planet Retail's Innovation Awards recognize Fresh & Easy, LAWSON Plus, 7-Eleven and its parent.

    NEW YORK -- Convenience retailers were rewarded for their strategies to differentiate recently, as Planet Retail's second-annual Innovation Awards recognized several companies within the industry.

    Winners that were setting themselves apart from the competition were awarded from new and mature markets around the world, Planet Retail reported, adding that across all channels, lines are increasingly blurring as retail environments merge with social networking concepts.

    The award for most innovative new concept for the supermarket and neighborhood store format went to Tesco's Fresh & Easy stores on the West Coast of the U.S. The stores stock prepared fresh foods, its own private label and national brands.

    LAWSON Plus was recognized as the most innovative new convenience/forecourt store. Located in Japan, the store takes learnings from its LAWSON STORE 100 format and combines them with a typical neighborhood format to make an urban-hybrid c-store, Planet Retail reported. The store features an extended selection of perishable foods -- including fruit and vegetables, sashimi and prepared meals. The store is aimed at housewives and the elderly, the report stated.

    7-Eleven in the U.S. won for the most effective promotional campaign, for its "The Simpsons Movie" tie-in that began in July. As part of the project, 12 U.S. stores were temporarily remodeled as the Kwik-E-Mart -- the convenience store from the hit show -- complete with products from the series.

    The parent company of 7-Eleven, Seven & I, was awarded for technology. Planet Retail cited the company's launch of an electronic payment service called "Nanaco" across approximately 13,000 stores in Japan. The cards act as both an electronic payment card and loyalty scheme where users receive one point for every 100 yen they spend in 7-Eleven stores. Each point is then exchanged for one yen in e-money.

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