Seiyu is one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan, established in 1963. In 2002, Walmart acquired a 6.1% stake in Seiyu. In 2005, we acquired a majority interest, making Seiyu a Walmart subsidiary. Walmart proceeded with additional steps to acquire all of the remaining shares, which resulted in the delisting of Seiyu shares from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2008. Later that year, Seiyu became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart.
Since 2009, we have partnered with Second Harvest Japan, the oldest food bank NGO in the country, to donate food from our stores to local welfare facilities. In 2012, by utilizing backhaul, we expanded our activities to 38 of our stores in the Kanto area, and plans are in place to expand participation to 150 stores across the area by 2016.
Supporting single parents
In 2011, we provided a grant to Florence, a nonprofit organization that supports parents who are pursuing professional careers while raising children. That grant contributed to a two-year program that provides single parents in poverty with childcare service when their children become ill. In July 2012, we also started a store fundraising campaign, and our customers have been supporting further expansion of this childcare service program.
Walmart Japan continues to reduce potentially harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) associated with our environmental footprint. To date, we've introduced LED lighting in 359 stores, distribution centers and packaging centers. That, along with our investments in refrigeration and air conditioning system efficiency, and the introduction of EMS to all stores in 2011, has contributed to our improved facilities.
Plastic bag reduction
Through our Hummingbird Campaign, which ran from 2007 to July 2012, we encouraged customers to shop with reusable shopping bags. As a result, more than 50% of our customers made the transition. Building on this accomplishment, Walmart Japan started charging for plastic bags in July 2012 to further accelerate plastic bag reduction. Now, more than 70% of our customers use reusable shopping bags.
Direct sourcing of produce
Walmart Japan has had a hand in the direct sourcing of produce for four decades and built long-term relationships with farmers. In 2012, we increased the number of farmers we source directly from to 13,690, up by 128 in 2011. Our direct-sourced produce accounts for about 35% of total produce sales across Walmart Japan, and we continue to forge new partnerships every year.
Careers for women
Approximately 70% of Walmart Japan associates are female, which is in line with our female customer base. With that in mind, we launched our Female Leadership Program to encourage our female associates to pursue career development opportunities in the company. Since 2010, 242 associates have participated in the Female Leadership Program, and a number of participants have gone on to take leadership roles.
Part-time to management
Across Japan, it's generally difficult for part-time workers to grow their professional careers. Walmart Japan, however, offers unique opportunities of career development for all associates who are innovative, enthusiastic and committed to better serving our customers. In fact, since 2006, 249 male and female associates who began part-time have been promoted into management positions. In 2012, 66 associates, 38 of them women, were promoted to assistant manager.