JapanConsuming Headlines: July/August 2011

Jul 06

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Retail Results FY2010: profit, profit, profit
The annual results for the retail and distribution sector show that an incredible 31 of 47 top retailers increased pretax profit by double digits last year. FY2010 was a particularly good year for the majority of firms, so much so that the usual situation where the problem companies standout no longer applies. In the coming year, much of the strength displayed in last year’s results will continue to shine through – quite a number of chains are even optimistic that the impact of the March 2011 earthquake on current year results will be far less pronounced than originally feared, with, again, only the weaker companies using the disaster to excuse ongoing poor performance. Japanese retailing has experienced a building revolution over the past 20 years, and no matter what the traditionalists may claim, FY2010 shows that it is now a truly modern industrial sector.

The salaryman’s poverty trap
Wives control the family budget in Japan and with so much uncertainty about the future and food prices up, many husbands have seen their monthly allowances and pocket money cut right back. The entertainment industry is feeling the impact.

Support for new department stores and SCs in Kansai
Japanese love a new shopping development, and their enthusiasm has not abated since the events in March. This loyal support includes the Isetan-Mitsukoshi store at Osaka Station, but even with plenty of footfall in the first month, it was outperformed by the new Lucua shopping centre.

More social fashion networks online
Showing off your sense of fashion is nothing new in Japan but doing it digitally through social networks is. As well as the larger sites detailed last month, a host of smaller social styling services are fighting for attention, offering a variety of unique attributes.

Tokyu Hands expands through franchises, small stores
It is hard to expand fast when your stores are as big as Tokyu Hands’ and this unique retailer has long been trying to create a workable smaller format that can be made into a large nationwide chain. With such a diverse product range and tortuous supply chain this has not been easy either. It now hopes franchising will allow it to focus on product supply and leave retailing to others.

Isetan: The jewel in the crown gets a polish
JR Osaka Mitsukoshi-Isetan may struggle to meet its first year targets (see Page ??) but the group remains optimistic about its overall strategy. It continues to invest in its key stores while closing or leasing out unworkable properties. It has big plans for Isetan Shinjuku and Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi over the next three years.

Isetan-Mitsukoshi outlet shop

Isetan-Mitsukoshi announces China megastore

Direct marketing sales down
2010 did not bring much joy on the sales front for Japan’s leading catalogue businesses but many saw a surge in profits on the back of lower costs and better supply chain management.

Wedding industry gains following natural disaster
The number of people deciding to marry after the events in March has risen, providing a boost to the wedding industry and jewellery firms alike, at least in the short term.

Mitsui to add three SCs in Tokyo Bay
Mitsui Real Estate is busy in Tokyo Bay. Over the next year it will open an outlet mall in Chiba, rebuild the west side of its important Tokyo Bay Lalaport, and create a new 50,000 sqm SC in Odaiba.
Box: American Eagle to open 2nd store in Mitsui Ikebukuro SC

Mitsui to add three SCs in Tokyo Bay
As reported last month, key railway operators are investing heavily in sprucing up suburban stations and installing high spec shopping malls to generate new sources of income, pulling traffic from nearby shopping streets in the process. While JR East and Tokyu lead, other railways operators and developers are active too, further encouraging the consolidation of retailing around core railway hubs.

Aeon moves to centralise store management
General Merchandise Stores (GMS) have long been managed as the individual fiefdoms of powerful store managers. This still holds true at many larger chains with managers controlling detailed aspects of their stores from decor right down to inventory planning and even some procurement. While this works exceptionally well in some stores, there are far more where it does not. Led by Aeon, all the big chains are now looking to move towards more centralised store management.

Takashimaya: playing with direct control
Takashimaya has something of an addiction to the less strenuous business methods department stores used to be able to get away with, in particular letting others do the work of managing its retail space. The recently reopened and expanded Namba store is the first in the chain to introduce a large number of directly merchandised sales areas, something that Isetan Mitsukoshi and J Front have been working on for some time. Their success is key to the chain’s ongoing survival.

Facebook Check In promotions immediate hit with brands
Facebook is rapidly gaining ground in Japan. The US owned social networking service (SNS) lags behind homegrown services Mixi and Gree in terms of member numbers and, as the outsider, a few local experts have dismissed the network’s potential here. Once again, this overlooks Facebook’s ability and willingness to use something the Japanese SNSs regard as unnecessary: consumer marketing.

Aeon Mall: today Japan, tomorrow the world
Aeon Mall is the central mall development and management company within the Aeon Group, and as such is currently the most successful part of Japan’s largest retail conglomerate. Over the next few years it plans to increase its pace of expansion in the rest of Asia while consolidating and realigning properties at home.

Seria takes ¥100 shops up-market
Seria opened a new Color The Days ¥100 store in Marui Jam in Shibuya in late March. Although it may be a ¥100 shop in terms of price point, Seria has scored a hit with an even more upscale version of its Color The Days concept, which offers cleaner, more targeted merchandise ranges, and advanced inventory control and marketing.

Large Store Law bites: applications plummet in 2010
METI has released figures for the full list of Large Store Location Law applications submitted in 2010. The number plummeted as the economic downturn took hold along side the new, stricter application of the law.

News in Brief
Desigual flagship in Hakata
Madame Tussauds and Legoland coming to Japan
Richemont up 18% in Japan, Swiss watches up 44%
Life ramping up own brands, store openings
Forever 21 and H&M in Kyushu next year
Jil Sander and Uniqlo part ways
Tokyu Department store confirmed for Hikarie
Lancel in Ginza
Yodobashi Camera to expand Sendai store
Rakuten opens the French market to Japanese clients
Nitori predicts unexpected profit growth
Zozotown up 50% in May
Glico: 60% of women eat sweets daily
Tommy Hilfiger brings global standard to Japan
Domestic production of shoes and apparel shrinks further
Narita T2 gets upgrade
Deckers Japan expands beyond Ugg
Inageya, Maruetsu, Tokyu Store: options for a long, hot summer
Brokering service launches for fashion firms
Suzutan to be merged into Palemo
Ron Herman gets faster roll out
Japanese don’t like their lives
Brands for Friends ties with MSN
Matsuzakaya Ginza rebuild confirmed
Home alone for more than 30% of households
Start Today buys Crown Jewel
Wacoal opens in Harrods
Levi Strauss begins move upmarket
Wired comes back to Japan
Coredo Muromachi puts Twitter on its walls
Hublot opens first Japanese store
Nike in Isetan The Stage
Haruyama: more choice for the plus size

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