Leading Japanese convenience store chain Lawson is stepping up its expansion programme over the next five years by establishing up to 500 outlets in hospitals after a successful trial in Ishikawa. The stores will open 24 hours and cater for patients as well as staff. The Ishikawa hospital store is run as a franchise by a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, which owns a 27% stake in Lawson. Attracting 1,000 visitors a day, the store has proved more successful than a typical Lawson outlet serving around 800 customers. Mitsubishi is reported to be interested in increasing its stake in the chain after Lawson parent Daiei announced plans to sell its stake to tackle spiralling debts. {{NEWS }}