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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Seven & I Opens First Drug Store

    Japanese convenience store chain plans to set up two more drugstores by year-end and 30 more annually moving forward.

    August 10, 2009-TOKYO -- Seven & I Holdings Co. opened its first drug store last week at an Ito-Yokado supermarket in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, according to the Japan Times Online.

    The Japanese convenience store chain said it aims to set up two more of the Seven Bi no Gardens locations at Ito-Yokado Co. outlets in the Tokyo area by year-end, with an eye to opening around 30 each year. "Bi" means "beauty" in Japanese.

    "We intend to begin handling pharmaceuticals under our private brands next year," said Toshihide Mizushima, president of Seven Health Care Co., the firm in charge of the new drug stores.

    The company is a venture formed in June between Seven & I and Ain Pharmaciez Inc., a major chain of prescription drug stores.

    The new Funabashi drug store also sells cosmetics and nursing care products and offers a wide selection of products targeting women in their 20s and 30s, Seven & I said.

    The company entered the drug business in June after the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act was revised to ease restrictions on medicine sales in Japan.

    Ever since, Japanese convenience stores and supermarkets, including Seven & I group firm Seven-Eleven Japan Co., have been selling nonprescription drugs, including aspirin.

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