JapanConsuming Headlines: February 2010

Feb 03

Used goods retailing now for everyone
Japanese may be famous for buying luxury brands, but nowadays not everyone is looking to get the latest product brand new. There is a growing and increasingly professional market in second hand goods, and second hand apparel and branded items are a key part of it. Several chains have created sophisticated computer systems to make the business efficient and profitable, and have enjoyed fast growth, fuelled by some of the highest gross profits in retailing.

Shiseido acquires Bare Escentuals
Shiseido has acquired US minerals based cosmetics brand, Bare Escentuals. This is one more step on the road to making Shiseido into Japan’s first international cosmetics company.

JR East to buy Kinokuniya
JR East has pulled off a major coup by agreeing to acquire the upscale supermarket chain, Kinokuniya. The chain is one of Japan’s most respected upscale food retailers, but recent pressure due to changes in the economy and the competitive environment in food retailing in Tokyo provided an opening for JR East to pull off this bold move.

Edwin plans 200 stores in China
Edwin is one of Japan’s top denim businesses and now wants to be a major player in China too. It is an example of a strong domestic player realising that failure to compete globally, or at least in Asia, will make it harder and harder to stay on top in Japan. With the domestic market in decline, overseas expansion is an essential source of new growth too.

Japanese hat brands head overseas
Selling hats is inevitably a niche business but several Japanese hat retailers are creating strong names for themselves both here and overseas.

Itochu buys Leilian from Renown and takes Rebecca Taylor too
Itochu has been busy of late, not just with the usual compulsive signing of overseas brands for distribution or license, but also buying companies. The latest is Leilian.

Shopping centres expansion at lowest level since 1990
The Japan Shopping Centre Association’s latest report suggests that the number of shopping centre openings in 2010 will be at their lowest since 1990, less even than 2001. The JSCA also reports that management companies are struggling to fill SCs, with many specialty chains decreasing store expansion plans.

Seven & I and Aeon lead the way: down, down, down
Both of Japan’s largest retail groups announced another round of poor results for the first nine months of FY2009. While results were overwhelmingly disappointing, Aeon’s latest loss was seen by investors as better than expected, while S&I continues to struggle to find business to match its convenience store operation. Both companies have introduced new ideas in the past year, but the pressure to make good from massive investment is growing.

Seven & I slashes department store operations
Following hints along these lines over the past six months, recent results at Seven & I Holdings have finally pushed the group to lose patience with the state of its recently acquired department store subsidiary. It will now close 4 major stores from the Sogo and Seibu chains and others may well follow.
BOX: More department stores for the chop

Large retailing slumps in 2009
Initial figures for 2009 show a major decline in sales for large format retailing in Japan. Convenience stores did marginally better, but even here, the petering out of sales increases brought by new tobacco vending machine restrictions also caused leading chains to see performance decline in the second half of the year. Department store sales too continued to fall although with a slower decline in December. Faced with closure, there are signs of serious efforts to stop the decline including rewriting tenancy agreements to make it easier for specialty stores to become tenants. With such great locations, it would be hard for specialty chains to refuse.

Kids’ fashion: a gap waiting to be filled
Despite the leaps that a few Japanese retailers have made into the realms of marketing and shop branding, one area that lags seriously behind is children’s clothes, both in terms of basics and fashion items. This is also an area where there is still a serious dearth of overseas players.

Ikea Japan continues to learn
Ikea Japan made the unusual move of releasing sales data last year, demonstrating that after only 4 years and with just 5 stores, it is already the third largest furniture retailer in the country. But it is much more than just the standard Ikea store package that is contributing to its success.

Mitsui to open first Hokkaido outlet mall
Mitsui is set to open the first of nine outlet malls currently under development around Japan. The latest to reach completion will open in Sapporo in late April, and will link directly to the local airport to encourage tourist shopping addition to local consumers.

News in Brief
Liberty sells off J-Com
Forever 21 Spring store openings
Isetan and Tokyo to deepen ties
Itochu acquires China’s top household goods wholesaler
Barneys New York Kobe branch opens March
Lumine results improve, to launch Lumine Ikebukuro
G Star drops prices 40%
H&M to open in Lalaport Yokohama, sales reach ¥13.6 billion
Japanese swimwear heads overseas
Omotesando Hills brings four new brands to Japan
Point launches teens brand and preps launch in department stores
Rakuten ties with Baidu, plans more overseas sites
Sanyo Shokai buys Kai Lani
Avex enters fashion business
Tokyo Style nearing completion of US brand acquisition
United Arrows posts strong profits
Overseas visitor numbers fall 17% in 2009
Familymart opens low emission store
Honeys to shrink Japan stores, expand in China
METI claims success with eco-point scheme
Kojima enjoys profitable Christmas
Matsukiyo to open new concept cosmetics store
Top retailers recycle and reuse
Jeansmate expects ¥1.6 billion loss
Liberty sells off J-Com
Splashing out on weddings
Tesco quietly opens Tesco

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