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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Lawson Joins Forces with Drug Store Chain

    The two companies plan to open outlets starting next spring, and increasing to 1,000 in the next five years.

    TOKYO -- Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. and drug store chain Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings Co. will join forces to launch a new type of outlet they hope will boost consumer demand, according to The Japan Times Online.

    The two retailers will set up a joint venture by the end of this year to operate outlets combining the convenience store and drug store formats, the report stated.

    Lawson President Takeshi Niinami said the two companies plan to start opening the outlets next spring and build 1,000 in the next five years.

    The decision came after government deregulation in June allowed sales of medicines at convenience stores and other stores on the condition that certified sales clerks are present on behalf of pharmacists, The Japan Times Online reported.

    To operate the new outlets, Lawson will train certified sales clerks and Matsumotokiyoshi will obtain the information needed to operate convenience stores, the companies said in the report.

    Earlier this month, Seven & I Holdings Co. opened its first drug store at an Ito-Yokado supermarket in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, in cooperation with Ain Pharmaciez Inc., a major chain of prescription drugstores.

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