JapanConsuming Headlines: October 2012

Oct 05

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Specialty Fashion 2011: a strong push from the middle
The results for specialty apparel retailing in FY2011 were the best for more than five years, reflecting higher spending on premium fashions as well as a general uplift in consumer demand. The top 60 specialty apparel retailers outperformed other retailers, averaging 5% growth and now account for nearly 30% of the entire apparel market – the top 20 alone own 21%. Womenswear retailers led, up 8.5% on the year, boosted by a cluster of up and coming middle ranking retailers like Trinity Arts and Mash Style Lab that posted sales up more than 50%. In childrenswear too, a new crop of chains are filling the big gap in the market for more fashionable kids clothing, delivering some of the fastest growth in the last few years.

United Arrows and Mitsubishi split
Mitsubishi is to sell its stake in United Arrows. Mitsubishi will still be involved, but the select shop retailer recognises that over reliance on third parties for merchandise planning and supply is a serious weakness, one that already plagues some competitors. Instead it is investing in its own design team as it expands at home and overseas.

H2O ambitious for Hankyu Umeda
H2O Retailing has set some ambitious targets for the flagship Umeda store once it reopens in November. This optimism is backed up by reports suggesting H2O is about to boom thanks to an innovative use of the huge new space.

Benetton launches first mini store
Benetton wants to reconnect with Japanese consumers. A new team has ditched the old idea of building temple-like megastores and praying the faithful will return, in favour of a new strategy that fits the market: taking the brand to the people in station areas.

Yaoko joins the new EDLP era
Yaoko, arguably Japan’s most capable supermarket retailer, is expanding its recently introduced low price strategy. The change is significant as Yaoko becomes yet another Japanese chain making an effort to emulate Walmart’s strategy for Seiyu in Japan and convert to Everyday Low Prices. The change is as much a response to increasingly price conscious consumers.

H&M to launch Monki and Weekday in Japan as sales climb
H&M Japan had a roller coaster year in 2011 but sales growth is back on track with a strong set of results for the first nine months of 2012. It also announced plans to bring two of its recently acquired fashion chains to Japan, providing opportunities for growth from different market segments.

TV shopping market hits ¥500 billion
The TV shopping market grew again last year although with widely differing performance among the leading players. Recent success in fashion was offset by problems caused by the events of March 2011, which impacted TV shopping far more than high street retailers, as well as the switch over to digital TV for electronics and a scarcity of new hit products.

Arcs: Japan’s 2nd largest supermarket
Arcs Group finalised the acquisition of Tohoku based Jois in early September, making it the second largest supermarket chain in the country. It is already challenging Aeon and other major groups with massive sales volumes and aims to be number one on a region by region basis. Issues remain as with any group built through M&A, but the integration of supermarket retailing across the north of Japan is a development likely to be repeated elsewhere.

Amazon adds more fashion and merchants
Amazon is already a serious rival to Rakuten, Zozo and smaller online fashion portals. It continues to extend its reach, launching a new jewellery and watch section to its Javari site, while adding more popular retailers such as Tokyu Hands and Point.

Sogo-Seibu to expand own brands by 50% in 2 years
Like its competitors, Sogo-Seibu sees a way out of the low margin doldrums through expansion of own brands. It is working with well-respected outside designers to produce more appealing product, including high end lines that compete directly with designer brands. Seven & I also plans to sell the new Seven Premium apparel lines in Sogo-Seibu as well as its other 14,600 stores.

Aeon expanding ASEAN ambitions
Aeon finally became the undisputed leading retailer in terms of volume last year and looks to be rapidly moving away from its rivals. Part of its future strategy will be to focus an increasing proportion of investment funds into the rest of Asia. It is already Japan’s leading retailer in Asia and is set to expand quickly.

Replay plans 20 stores in 3 years
Following a takeover by its European head office from IPGI, Replay is getting a boost from new stores and expansion of wholesale.

Ito-Yokado launches own drug & cosmetics chain
Seven & I Holdings has announced yet another change of direction, this time in drugstores. After two years of lacklustre experimentation with a tie-up between the Seven Eleven convenience store format and Ain Pharmaciez, it will launch its own drug and cosmetics chain with a quick roll out to all 170 Ito-Yokado GMS stores.

Heiwado looking to expand in China
Major regional GMS chain, Heiwado, will open its first new store in China for four years in 2013. In Japan Heiwado dominates the rural prefecture of Shiga and neighbouring areas to the north, but has delivered only mediocre results at home over recent years. China offers a whole new source of higher profits.

More apparel brands for department stores
The upturn in department store fortunes and investment in town centre shopping districts is encouraging apparel firms to expand. All the top firms are looking to launch new brands and increase the number of department store concessions after years of cutting back.

News in Brief
United Nude launches in Japan
Tomorrowland signs Isabel Marant and Jean Paul Knott
Bic Camera rapidly transforming Kojima
Mixi launches online fashion store
Sagawa making returns easy for online retailers
The salaryman’s pocket money gets cut again
Laura Ashley Japan to open station format
DNP builds automated fashion recommendation engine for online retailers
Underwear wars heating up
Mitsubishi to develop commercial facilities in Asia
Life sees profit down
CCC ties with Nissen
Mitsui targets ¥20 billion sales for Paul Stuart
41.7% rise in tourists helps Tokyo department stores
Lumine to replace 94 tenants this Autumn
Yamada Denki moving forward with smart homes
Otto Japan to launch online mall
Rakuten accessories fair at Marui
Mac House opens first Lee Cooper store
Takashimaya profits up 16%
Internet everywhere – breaking another cartel
Credit card numbers drop
Edion goes Celine Dion
Lush Japan to introduce in-store studio
Consumer electronics sales continue to shrink