JapanConsuming Headlines: June 2012

Jun 06
JapanConsuming June 2012

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Focus: Online portals a hit with fashion consumers
Online retailing looks to have reached sales of ¥10 trillion, now larger than either department or convenience stores. While specialty chains have been the winners in the physical world, online it is the giant shopping portals that are garnering the largest share. Even in fashion and apparel, where boutique web stores often enjoy a loyal following, specialist shopping sites are finding it increasingly hard to compete as Amazon and Rakuten invest in dedicated fashion, sports and footwear micro-sites. The result is that the portals’ share of these key categories looks set to grow ever larger.

World’s sales jump 8%
World is the largest of the old apparel conglomerates and since delisting in 2006 has been one of the better performers. Its latest results far outstrip its rivals. Rapid development of new retail chains to meet market demand, as well as close ties to developers, are the main reasons for its success.

Major chains ramp up retail branding
Many retailers have been afraid to do it and manufacturers have been keen to deny it has any chance of success, but retail brands are now big business. The latest data from Nikkei show just how much.

Isetan the specialty retailer
Isetan-Mitsukoshi has begun to open small format stores in high traffic locations such as stations and airports with plans to expand quickly. It will also triple own-branded merchandise in the next three years. It is gradually creating a business that mixes department store and specialty chain retailing, with the hope of stability in sales and strong branding from the former, and high growth and profits from the latter.

Supermarket M&A: cracks in the dam
Could Tesco have decided to leave Japan too soon? In recent months not only has it become clear that Walmart’s persistence with Seiyu has paid off, but the number of mergers and acquisitions in the food and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector has begun to increase. This could be Walmart’s, and any other foreign retailer’s, big chance.

Suit chains push into city centres and profit from men’s fashion boom
Suit sales rose strongly last year, with all of the big four, Aoyama Shoji, Aoki Holdings, Konaka and Haruyama Shoji recording improved results. The nationwide effort to cut electricity usage helped both summer and winter sales, as did the uptick in consumption overall by young single men. The top chains also grabbed more market share by introducing new concepts for younger customers and investing in city centre locations.

Bic Camera to acquire Kojima
While it comes as little surprise, the big news of the month is the acquisition of the number seven consumer electronics chain, Kojima, by number five player Bic Camera. With market share in the sector already heavily concentrated and leading chains competing increasingly on location, such mergers are now inevitable. All the same, two of the weaker players jumping into bed together doesn’t automatically mean a productive honeymoon.

H&M to target station locations
H&M’s sales fell in FY2011 but are rising again. This year sees more stores including more smaller stores in busy locations, suggesting a new period of faster expansion for the Swedish retailer.

Men: fashion, beauty and cafe au lait -but still macho
Data from METI last month showed that young men had shifted further towards individual consumption, investing in themselves, their careers and their increasingly important leisure activities (see JC1205). Now a new survey confirms that there are strong groups of fashion leaders among young men and that these groups are driving the trend towards more development of products and services specifically for the male market.

A lighter shade of beige: shopping centre innovation at Aeon
The country’s largest retailer, Aeon Group, continues to work on improving the efficiency of its operations, but it also needs to put more effort into making its stores appealing. This is a lot harder for such an amorphous group of companies than it should be.

Cocokara Fine: closing on rivals
The drugstore sector has been developing rapidly over the past 10 years, under the guidance of two major buying groups led by Aeon and Matsumotokiyoshi. Now, with many independent chains increasingly wary of signing up with the two dominant players, Cocokara Fine is fast becoming a third power.

News in Brief
Skytree opens to massive fanfare
Tourist sales quadruple in April
Urban Research joins station store rush, Ginza Echika Fit to open
Hikarie receives 2 million visitors in 18 days
Lawson continues to diversify store portfolio
Average Household savings top ¥16 million
Isetan Shinjuku refurbishment on schedule for Spring 2013
40 million on Tsutaya database, 64% of young Japanese
Nissen issues smartphone app for men
Marui gains from own brand developmen
New station SC for Tachikawa in 2016
Daiei opens first new store for 4 years
New flagship for Lacoste
Takashimaya to offer Home Renovation service
Zozo adds L’Occitane
JR Tokai plans new Nagoya station SC in 2016, Takashimaya as anchor
Seria continues strong growth
Tokyu Retail sales down 5%
JR West to add Eki Marche SC in October
Yamada makes further inroads into housing market
Maruzen to support smaller Book Retailers
Louis Vuitton launches app
Honeys expanding in China
Rakuten offers SNS-based consumer survey service
Aeon continues Ministop’s Asian expansion
Gilt Groupe adds interiors
Kiddyland Harajuku back online in July
Best Denki announces stores in Kuwait