May 4 2010

JapanConsuming: Headlines May 2010

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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Focus: Sports: a bright light in the fashion industry
“A cloudless blue sky, snowy peaks of Fujisan in the background, and a shimmering patch of green perfection ahead as his ball drops within a metre of the flag. Other than the appreciative murmurings of equally privileged colleagues enjoying a day away from the pressures of office and the different but no less real stresses of home, there is only silence. Suddenly, a high pitched screech breaks the peace. The ruffled executive turns. Is it a crow? No it’s a Galfer, a 20 something woman celebrating a good shot, dressed in garish pink top and mini skirt even louder than her cry of delight, with a pierced navel and wearing a cap which sparkles. Worse still, she can actually play.” Such astonishing scenes are being played out in golf courses across the nation, part of the fast growing emergence of women across the sports world, bringing new challenges and opportunities in sports gear and apparel, and helping revive the sales of both.

Mosaicon takes control in Japan
There has been a rush of investment from brands with strong bag and accessories businesses of late. Burberry and Kate Spade created joint ventures last year and Michael Kors also set up shop this year. Now Italian group, Mosiacon, which owns brands like Mandarina Duck and Francesco Biasia, has also established its own subsidiary with plans to build a ¥10 billion business in the next few years.

Ikea Japan: online sales from 2010
Reversing a company wide policy that is reported to have stood for several years, Ikea Japan has announced it will begin online sales here in 2010.

Point growth continues but president leaves
Point has grown ten fold in a decade to become one of the most influential womenswear retailers in Japan and one of the fastest growing and most profitable. Its future plans look promising, including diversifying at home and expanding its more successful brands across Asia. Unfortunately, it also lost its president in March, the man credited with developing and pushing forward its much imitated, but rarely emulated business model.

Bag brands target men
What to do when your core market is buying less and the lust for luxury wanes? One answer is to go after the other half of the population, which is what many bags and accessory firms are now beginning to do, launching new men’s bag and accessory collections and even dedicated men’s stores.

ABC powers ahead
ABC Mart beat the market by a large margin in FY2009, even on a same store basis, and plans new ranges and more new stores this year. Its shoe retail operations are now almost as big as long term sector leader Chiyoda. Based on current levels of expansion for ABC Mart and contraction for Chiyoda, ABC Mart will lead the sector shortly. Box: Aeon plans expansion for G Foot

Aeon overhauls apparel operations, to close 200 stores
Aeon is one of the top three apparel retailers in Japan if all its disparate subsidiary operations are included. Unfortunately, not many make a profit, and its leading specialty chains have been losing both sales and money in the last few years. In a bid to turn things around, it is merging its two core chains and plans to create a short cycle fashion SPA business with the help of trading firm partners. Box: Aeon: cost reductions save profitability

Private sale firms collaborate
A year ago there was one private sale web business in Japan. Today there are four, all either owned by foreign interests or linked to them. With such a rush of competition, there is a fight on to secure the biggest web presence and many are linking with the major portals and fashion sites to achieve this.

Takashimaya looks overseas for growth
Takashimaya will invest ¥42 billion in overseas ventures over the next five years. The number two department store company insists that volume will be the key to its future success and plans expansion overseas given the lack of opportunity at home.

Matsuya turns to shoes and bags
Even in Ginza, shoppers are shunning department stores in favour of better, cheaper specialty options. While Matsuzakaya introduced a very un-department store like brand in the form of Forever 21 in April as well as cheap fashion footwear, Matsuya, which relies on Ginza sales as its main source of business, has decided to become even more exclusive.

Isetan-Mitsukoshi spins off stores
Eight stores were taken out of the core Isetan-Mitsukoshi Holdings group last month and spun off as subsidiaries or merged with nearby stores. This restructuring is a necessary step and provides the possibility that stores can be sold off and closed at a later date if results continue to be as poor as they have been recently. At the same time, the flagship stores that remain at the centre of the company show few signs of recovery.

H&B Place: Matsukiyo’s new cosmetics format
Matsumotokiyoshi introduced H&B Place in late March, the first of a chain of cosmetics and health food stores aimed at younger, career women. The store employs a number of features to differentiate itself not only from top-end cosmetics counters in department stores, but equally to position the store above and away from Matsukiyo’s more general drugstore format.

Aeon opens utopian household goods store
Aeon has opened the first two of its ROU stores – a new concept designed from scratch to sell household and variety goods in large scale tenants within Aeon shopping malls across the country. While such a concept is far from unique, it is certainly an area with few other players.

News in Brief
Topshop aims to open 10-15 new Japan stores through T’s alliance
Ferragamo to open in new Mitsukoshi Ginza Annex
Golden Week: stay at home
Lawson looking to enter India
Advantage sells Daiei stake
Muji expands to Portugal, Philippines and Israel
Flagship for Montura
Department store sales decline slows, confidence up
Sky Tree growing on Tokyo
Zara to open first outlet store at new Mitsui mall
Book Off targets ¥5 billion in used clothing sales
Botto Giuseppe AGREES TIE-UP with Daidoh
Yamada uses loyalty points to attack Shinjuku
Big John signs K Way
Wig brand JO expands into Omotesando
Tokyo Style sales fall 17%
Netprice thinks foreigners are on to a good thing
RCT signs Peak Performance
Lasalle Investment upgrades malls
Panasonic leads 3DTV rollout
Point Style sets up scheme for bankrupt loyalty point programmes
Department stores slash employee numbers
Itochu-Uny tie-up bears fruit
First Lawson-Matsukiyo hybrid coming in August
Fast Retailing introduces Loft
Familymart to open on military bases
Top supermarkets to open more stores


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