Top Management Message January 12, 2004

A Happy New Year to all our stakeholders.

Time flies; it is almost two years since I was appointed president and CEO. This also means we are nearly two years into Lawson Challenge 2004, our three-year reform plan, which was formulated based on discussions with franchise owners and employees. This plan was designed to revive Lawson and propel it to a new level of growth. We have achieved steady progress in implementing this plan in the past two years, and this period has reaffirmed for me that the frontline offers many valuable insights for management in helping to improve our operations.

During the current fiscal year, our main focus has been on attracting more customers. I am pleased to say that we are beginning to reap the fruits of our various initiatives. Since September 2003, the start of this fiscal year's second half, customer footfall has trended upward. I am also encouraged by the number of occasions that I hear customers and franchise owners compliment us on the improved quality of our products. I myself have felt this gradual improvement. And the improvements are being seen across our operations. These positive developments are tempered, however, by a new issue: the rising price of rice and the extent to which we can absorb this effect. Please access our monthly business report for December 2003, released today, for further information on this issue.

This year we are also striving to raise customer satisfaction by focusing on three elements of our operations. The first is to raise product quality to an even higher standard. Our efforts in this respect are guided by the mantra that product appeal hinges on offering safe, healthy and tasty products that customers can trust, and this will go hand in hand with steps to further pick up the pace of improvement in product quality. The second element is The 3 Challenge Practices: serve customers with sincerity, keep stores and surrounding areas clean, and create stores with products matched to local needs. I have continuously advocated improvement in these three areas since my appointment. The third element is to find and develop store locations that are more convenient for customers.

Raising the level of customer satisfaction is a job for everyone in the Lawson family, whether they are a franchise owner, store manager, member of the store crew or Lawson employee. This year we are investing considerable resources in fostering greater recognition of the importance of customer satisfaction and in improving the ability of our people to deliver it.

You can expect to see further developments and progress in the coming months as we continue on our chosen path of becoming "the 'hot' station in the neighborhood."

January 12, 2004

Takeshi Niinami
President and CEO

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