JapanConsuming Headlines: July 2011

Jul 06
JapanConsuming, July 2011 Edition

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Focus: Retail Results 2011: a second year of profit growth
2011 was yet another great year for Japanese retailers. Despite earthquakes, shorter store opening hours, consumer reluctance to spend and reduced power supplies, most retailers managed to make money – some of them a lot of it. The only sub-sector to finish with poorer results were the consumer electronics retailers, which all suffered having lost two important sales crutches: the ecopoints scheme and the shift over to digital TV. The rest did remarkably well and most expect 2012 to be a follow-on to what came last year.

New large stores up for 3rd year plan
The number of newly opened shopping centres has declined in the past couple of years but the number of large stores approved by authorities has risen for two years running. Following a slump in 2009 as regulations from the last big revision began to bite and the economy floundered, last year 620 new applications for stores of 1,000 sqm or more meant new store openings jumped 7%.

J Front closes one Daimaru, re-opens another and pushes online
J Front will get a further boost to operating profits next year. It plans to close a tired old location in Kobe, while relaunching its Tokyo station store with 22% more space and a hybrid format mixing department store concessions with specialty tenants like Tokyu Hands, Zara and United Arrows. At the same time, it continues to look for growth outside its stores, including e-commerce.

Denmark’s Tiger chain comes to Japan
Tiger is a highly successful retail chain from Denmark selling fun and colourful products for the home at very low prices. It already has 140 stores and will launch its first in Japan this month. Tiger may threaten the upper end of the ¥100 shop market and also worry chains like Francfranc.

Conbini Wars: the race to the finish
Japan’s top convenience store chains are in a fight to the last square metre. There are simply too few locations left in Japan to continue the kind of organic growth that has maintained the sector over the past 10 years, so all five leading chains have massive store opening programmes this year to grab as many of the remaining potential locations as they can. The sector might well hit 50,000 stores by year end, and the top five will further consolidate their share to about 80%. Next year, however, with fewer places to put new stores, growth will come to a halt.

Apparel retail prices continue to rise
Apparel retail prices have been falling in the last decade even while unit sales have risen but there are signs that prices are on the rise. While higher costs are one reason, retailers are also finding consumers increasingly willing to pay more for more, whether in design or quality, presaging better sales and profits for many.

Online retailers fear Amazon
Amazon is growing as quickly and with as much innovation in Japan as anywhere else. While its initial entry caused fewer waves than, for example, Walmart, with the e-commerce sector now the fastest growing channel of all, domestic companies have suddenly woken up to the fact that they have an advanced, aggressive foreigner near the top of the sales rankings. Realising just how much of a threat it is, competitors are beginning to react.

Sanei loses Kate Spade and Stella McCartney
Sanei International and its partner Tokyo Style have announced plans to buy more brands and launch others over the next year. Sanei itself will however lose two key overseas brands, Kate Spade and Stella McCartney.

Bic Camera and Kojima: making the merger work
Although history is against synergies and efficiencies rapidly emerging from M&A in Japan, Bic Camera may actually make its recent acquisition of Kojima work.

Sumitomo closes Lancel, sells 50% of Shop Channel
Sumitomo Shoji made a big splash when it signed Marc Jacobs and Lancel in the same year. It forecast it would become a rival for Itochu and Mitsui in international brand distribution, but with its own unique take offering access to multiple channels thanks to ownership of TV shopping and e-commerce assets. This strategy looks to be in tatters with the closure of Lancel and the sale of 50% of its stake in Jupiter Shop Channel. major

Shimamura opens in Parco
Shimamura opened a store in Parco Tsudanuma 4 July, its first in such a high profile fashion location. The news says a lot about Shimamura’s efforts to reach young urban women and the threat this poses to Fast Retailing’s g.u. chain as well as 109 stores like Cecil McBee. The gal’s market looks set for a shake up.

Ministop and Lawson: more fresh veg
Fresh produce is increasingly common in certain convenience store chains. While Seven Eleven continues to prefer a fast and processed food selection, Familymart has shifted many product categories more upmarket and Lawson has differentiated its brand by offering fresh produce. Now Ministop, another Mitsubishi affiliated company, is doing the same.

Seiyu expands apparel brands 50%
Customers are becoming increasingly aware of everyday low prices and Seiyu now wants to expand this awareness with a big boost in own branded apparel ranges.

News in Brief
Fred Segal to open in Japan in 2013
Rakuten entering Malaysia, buys Spain’s Wuaki TV
World signs Lafuma
Yahoo ties with Tsutaya
Tokyo Metra adds new Echika station mall
JR East developing more Atre station malls
Amazon Kindle and Rakuten Kobo to launch in Japan
Department store sales up but still down on 2010
Make up market contracts but skincare, men’s cosmetics up
Gilt Groupe on a roll
American Apparel launches mobile store in Japan first
Mitsui plans Niigata SC for Autumn 2013
Takashimaya buys Select Square
Otto Japan issues smartphone friendly catalogue
Look signs Deux Lux
H&M sales jump 50%
Genten opens in Florence
Dinos launches cosmetics catalogue for over 40s
A date doesn’t need a man
Forget the neckties: market drops 3.4%
Shiseido to introduce Za brand to Japan
Makers Shirt Kamakura going overseas
Skytree: 5.81 million visitors in one month
Isetan-Mitsukoshi to cut back on operating hours in August
Retail brands bring manufacturer complaints

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