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    Ito Yokado Profit Gains 0.9%

    Japanese retail giant Ito-Yokado said Thursday its net profit marked a scant 0.9 percent rise in the first half year, as falling consumer spending ate into the company's efforts to shore up business.

    TOKYO - Japanese retail giant Ito-Yokado said Thursday its net profit marked a scant 0.9 percent rise in the first half year, as falling consumer spending ate into the company's efforts to shore up business.

    The company, whose group includes the convenience store chain operator Seven-Eleven Japan, made 35.62 billion yen ($296.2 million) in the six months ended Aug. 31, compared with 35.30 billion in the year-ago period.

    Group operating profit totaled at 82.2 billion yen, down 16.7 percent. But sales rose 8.3 percent to 1.64 trillion yen.

    Hit by falling consumer spending and ongoing weakness in the economy, Ito-Yokado was forced to cut prices and launch a sales campaign to compete against rivals like Fast Retailing's Uniqlo chain and Jusco, a supermarket giant.

    Some of the Ito-Yokado's pains, however, were offset by a steady growth at its Seven Eleven Japan convenience store chain.

    Seven-Eleven Japan reported an unconsolidated net profit of 44.87 billion yen, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier. Pretax profit rose 5.5 percent to 80.45 billion yen, helped by its aggressive new store opening efforts.

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