JapanConsuming Headlines: October 2011

Sep 02
JapanConsuming October 2011

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Tesco to pull out of Japan
September began with the not unexpected news that Tesco will look to sell off its Japan operations. Although this will be chalked up as yet another overseas failure, the British supermarket has had a positive impact on food retailing in Tokyo.

Focus: Specialty apparel chains FY2010: bigger is better
Following on from July-August’s focus on retailing in 2010 overall, this month we take a closer look at apparel specialty chains. After a very tough 2009, trading picked up last year, delivering much better sales and even better profits for the leading firms. Larger firms in particular exploited weak competition to expand into new segments, increasing their share of the market, with the top 10 now accounting for as much as 60% of the sector. FY2011 is proving a good year too so far despite the events of March, with continued gains for the larger chains, as well as a formidable group of small, up and coming chains which may even follow in the footsteps of Point and Cross Company to become the next generation of rapid growth brands.

Glittering Yurakucho
The smelly and seedy under the tracks image that has bedevilled Yurakucho since its days as an illicit post war market place is finally being dispelled. With Mitsubishi Estate aiming to recreate the Tokyo equivalents of 5th Avenue and Bond Street on one side and two new shopping buildings opening this Autumn on the other, the area now finally complements its glitzy Ginza neighbour.

Cross Company: 120 stores in China in 3 years
The operator of the Earth, Music & Ecology chain has been enjoying sales growth of 50% or so over the last two years but says it can do more. It has now signed a key deal for the Chinese market which will add as many as 1,000 stores within 10 years.

H&M to double Japan stores
H&M indicated that it would look to roll out stores quite rapidly in Japan once it had built up a solid base, and true to its promise, says it will double the number of stores here to around 30 by the end of its fiscal year ending November 2012.

Lucua sales higher than Isetan-Mitsukoshi Osaka
Isetan-Mitsukoshi’s new Osaka store is struggling to meet its forecast, not great news considering department store forecasts are anyway generally conservative. More embarrassing though is the stellar performance of the neighbouring station building Lucua which is generating more sales from less than half the space.

Itochu nabs Nina Ricci from Mitsui
Nina Ricci has a long history in Japan and its most recent incarnation was through a license and import deal with Mitsui. No longer. Itochu Shoji has managed to steal the brand away from its rival and plans to match Nina Ricci’s revival in other markets through a mix of imports and licensed apparel.

Arcs to merge with Universe: the first of many?
Arcs, the largest supermarket retailer in Hokkaido, has announced the acquisition of Universe, the leading chain across the water in Aomori. Domestic experts have been cautiously expressing mock surprise at the move, but in reality it is an inevitable next step for Arcs and could signify a change in the supermarket sector as a whole. It will certainly have alerted Walmart and Tesco to new possibilities.

Wholesalers have a good year
Wholesaling is in a period of major consolidation and upheaval, with mergers mostly aimed at securing volume and negotiating power with retailers. FY2010 was a good year on the whole, with many major companies showing growth in sales, and some also improving profitability.

Aeon helps unlock mobile phone market
Aeon has taken a big step towards forcing more competition in Japan’s highly restricted and very expensive mobile phone market. Following the long awaited introduction of unlocked phones by Docomo in April, the other big carriers are being forced to follow suit, with Aeon the first outsider to market.

Nitori, Bals set to enter US
Nitori, Japan’s largest furniture retailer, and Bals, operators of Francfranc and several other interiors brands, have announced their intentions to expand in the US in an attempt to build better international brand recognition. Nitori sees itself as the Japanese alternative to Ikea not only at home but, in some distant future, worldwide.

Box: Ikea cuts prices on 500 SKUs

Uniqlo: more, larger department store tenancies
Uniqlo will open new in-store tenancies in Tobu Ikebukuro in September. Uniqlo will add yet more space in an already well served local market but current demand at Uniqlo stores remains high.

More ageing households and working mothers
The three yearly survey by the Welfare Ministry shows an increase in the number of single person households, especially for those people aged 65 or more. The survey shows the highest level on record for working mothers, with more than 70% of women with children aged 9-11 now working, often for 8-10 hours a day.

News in Brief
Free Wifi to bring in the punters
Tokyu Tama Plaza renewal
Rakuten acquires Tradoria in Germany
Marunouchi ties with Bond Street
Barneys in Fukuoka
Yamada Denki getting into Smart Houses
Phoenix Capital to acquire Nakasan department store
Aeon opens new large scale RDC in Chiba
Lawson ties with Radishboya
Lawson expands SNS promotions
Ministop and Papasu make joint stores
Levi Strauss to reduce denim dependence to 30% as market falls
22% of web shoppers use mobiles
H2O in bid to acquire Kazokutei noodle chain
Moncler opens flagship
Printemps upgrades more store
Aeon ties with Wacoal on new store brand
Sumitomo ties with Unicharm for pet care market
G-Foot expands private label business
Belle Maison will clean your clothes too
Hankyu to expand home delivery to Kanto
Alpen profits up 28%
Jupiter Shop Channel starts 24/7 streaming
Replay distributor IPGI files for creditor protection
Refurbished Atre Kameido to open in October
Marui profit up 55% on retail remodelling

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