JapanConsuming Headlines: September 2010

Sep 06
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Focus: Apparel Retailing FY2009: only cheerful for the cheap, or just really smart
A breathtakingly bad set of results characterised apparel retailing in FY2009 with almost every major retailer failing to find growth for a second consecutive year. This is not surprising given the triple whammy of deflation, consumer demand for more for less, and intense competition. It makes sales growth at a handful of chains all the more remarkable and a testament to their innovation and discipline, as well as the continued buoyancy of the markets they are in, namely value basics and select fashions. The good news is that the worst may be over, and apparel deflation may have finally reached bottom – there may even be a big surprise for the future with the potential resurgence of Aeon and Ito-Yokado.

Ikea Japan: the next 100 years
Ikea Japan continues to develop and grow, adding new marketing tweaks carefully designed to meet local consumer needs. Consumers are responding well with one of the stores here being the most popular in the world. Even so, Ikea is in no rush.

More brands in Japan
Japan seems saturated with fashion brands, both local and foreign but they keep on coming. This month brings more new entrants coming in through distribution partners as well as a strong focus on the accessible luxury market from both new entrants and existing players alike.

Mitsubishi consolidates food wholesale operations
Officially, pharmaceutical wholesalers were the largest in the country last year, but it is a position they hold only because trading companies stay out of the rankings. That might be about to change as food wholesaling enters a period of consolidation.

Six department stores grow sales – no wait, it was only two
Only six department stores managed any kind of sales increase in FY2009, three of them thanks entirely to closing down sales. For many, closing may be the only possibility of a short-lived return to positive growth. The sector is in dire straights, but it still commands some of the best retail locations in the world and, given the right business models and innovative management, there’s no reason why the better department stores could not reinvent themselves.

Leading 30 department stores 2009: No growth here

Fast Retailing gives up on Cabin
Fast Retailing has announced that it will merge the remaining assets of Cabin into its Link Theory Japan subsidiary this month and close most of the 200 stores. The move will result in a special ¥3 billion loss for the apparel group, and underline the concerns about Fast Retailing’s ability to manage acquisitions.

Fast Retailing and Toray renew partnership

Mitsukoshi Ginza reopens
Isetan Mitsukoshi will reopen its Mitsukoshi Ginza store September 11. The store will be 55% larger than before at 36,000 sqm, the largest store in the area by far. Whether it will be able to offset the decline in Mitsukoshi’s fortunes remains to be seen, but it has certainly motivated nearby competitors to more carefully focus on who their core customers really are.

More fashion in childrenswear
Childrenswear used to be split between a mass market served by supermarkets and GMS chains and a premium market in departments stores, with some competition in between from the likes of Gap. Now apparel firms and retailers are seeing more opportunities in higher end fashionable lines for children that suit the tastes of a generation of adults who spent the years before parenthood shopping at select shops like Beams and United Arrows.

Nanaco e-wallets: your cash and your data belong to us
Competition for consumer cash remains as fierce as ever for those few companies offering electronic wallet smart card services. What is increasingly clear, however, is that the Seven & I model of capturing customer data was the right one all along.

Select shop leaders diversify
United Arrows and Beams created the select shop market, but are now so pervasive that some of their original cachet has worn off. While smaller shops take over the role of shop window for edgy fashions, the top chains are diversifying and proving resilient in a tough market.

Chinese tourists up 180% in June, plan to spend ¥280,000
Asian tourists still account for a tiny fraction of sales at even the most frequented department stores in Ginza but their promise as a source of new growth in an otherwise stagnant or declining market continues to impress both management and the media alike.

More Japanese retailers expand in Asia
Asian expansion is proving a welcome source of growth for Japanese brands and retailers, ranging from select shops to high end designers.

Lumine upgrades continue
Lumine’s sales growth in the last decade was the envy of rival SC developers, and even more so department stores. Like other fashion centres, Lumine sales fell during the tougher trading in the last 18 months. However, JR East continues to invest in the 12 Lumine properties, and since April, sales have stopped falling.

H&M Japan up 91%
Forever 21 to take over HMV flagship
Retailers call for government support in Asian expansion
Tommy Hilfiger to revamp Japanese arm
Japanese retailers look at listing on overseas bourses
Sumo and train sets: hotels luring visitors with special gimmicks
Starvations, proving there is nothing in a name
Cookpad – the world’s biggest cooking website
Kanebo introduces ¥120,000 skin cream
new extension to Point’s Hare brand debuts online
Women keen to study says survey
Renown: 1,000 stores in China by 2015
Wako to open on Sundays and holidays
York Benimaru to launch net super in 2011
PayPal plans expansion in Japan
Former Isetan Kichijoji to reopen as coppice in October
Yoox Japan up 90%
Agatha Japan aims to double sales to ¥3 billion
TopShop opens in Shinjuku
Dean & Deluca in Kichijoji
Marui to open in Kyoto
New Balance up 5.4%
Sanei launches new lingerie brand
Ace rolls out new retail concept
Mitsui expanding Coredo brand
Women’s positions in workforce remains limited
AEON to concentrate on profit over volume
Bare Escentuals boosts Shiseido profit by 20%

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