JapanConsuming Headlines: February 2013

Feb 04
JapanConsuming February 2013

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Consumers – what they want and how they buy it
Japanese worry about the future of the economy and the negative effect on incomes but they feel better off than a decade ago according to the latest surveys. Not only that but, rather than putting lower prices first, they are making more decisions based on added value including lifestyle positioning and personal taste. How they make these decisions varies greatly by age but almost everyone complains about information overload leading to more consumption of the most visible brands. And while it may be a digital age, the shop remains the hub for information and shopping, even when the final purchase is made online.

Editorial: Retail sales at highest for more than a decade

Grandfront to open with Zara Home
Grandfront isn’t the biggest shopping development in Osaka in recent years but it is one of the most significant, part of a much larger renaissance of the area north of Osaka station that will create stiff competition for existing facilities in the rest of the city. It could even force the closure of JR Isetan-Mitsukoshi.

Department stores end 16 year decline
Same store sales at department stores rose for the first time in 16 years in 2012. This was a significant turnaround boosted by consumers spending again on premium products, as well as a general uplift in consumption. While overall sales will continue to decline as excess capacity is cut, the better stores are benefitting from intelligent investment, new tenants and own brand expansion.

Familymart: 40,000 stores by 2020
Familymart is the number three convenience store at home, but it is Japan’s largest single international retail operation with 13,000 stores already operating outside the country. Chairman Junji Ueda recently said he expected 40,000 stores globally by 2020, before handing the reins to a new president and telling him to get on with it.

Beams: RFID sells more clothes
Apparel and high tech do not always go together, but led by Beams, Japan’s largest select shop chains are all experimenting with RFID tags to better control inventory and understand sales trends. The immediate results look promising, but others worry the costs outweigh the benefits.

Ace to create travel accessories chain
Overseas trippers look to have hit a record 18 million people last year according to JTB, boosting sales of travel goods businesses like Ace. Ace used to depend on overseas brands like Samsonite and Tumi for much of its sales but, having lost these licenses, it has rebuilt its business largely with its own brands. It continues to do deals with overseas brands too, signing a license for Flight 001 last month with plans to create a new travel brand for the younger market.

Mitsui buys Paul Stuart
With a lucrative license in Japan and opportunities in the rest of Asia, Mitsui has moved quickly to buy US brand Paul Stuart to avoid the potential loss of the license should the family firm be bought out. Mitsui is also worried; Burberry, the jewel in its license crown, is likely to end its license in 2015 and take direct control in Japan.

Retail Brands break ¥2 trillion in food
Japanese retailers have finally caught on to the advantages of so-called ‘private brands’. In food all the big players, and a lot of the medium sized ones, are rushing to expand their own brand ranges, seeing an opportunity to differentiate themselves with other chains while keeping pace with the new era of price competition.

NTT Docomo buys into fashion market through Magaseek
NTT Docomo has been capturing more of the trade in the retail channel in recent years through strategic investments in skilled direct marketers, but to date it has not had any interests in online fashion. That is about to change. Over the next month it plans to buy most of Magaseek and carve out a significant share in mobile fashion shopping.

Aeon deli to target single households
Aeon’s GMS operations are gradually showing signs of life. Although the main issue in food distribution at the moment is price competition, GMS chains are struggling generally to keep up with more dynamic specialty stores. Aeon now reports success with a new deli concept introduced at its Funabashi store.

Beisia Group: privately owned but a very public success
Beisia is one of Japan’s least recognised retailers simply because it is one of the most private, yet turnover already exceeds ¥800 billion a year, making it a top 12 company. In the past few weeks, founder Yoshio Tsuchiya has handed over the presidency to his eldest son, and given the new man’s existing track record at group subsidiary Cainz, expectations are high.

Pants World: Honeys’ new hope for another 400 store chain
Sales at Honeys have stagnated over the past five years, declining from ¥62 billion to ¥59 billion but the decline would have been much worse had it not built a chain of 400 stores in China from scratch over the same period. To fix this, Honeys is betting the company on a new format called Pants World with the usual plans for high speed store expansion.

Nitori to double stores, open in US
Nitori is Japan’s largest furniture retailer, and since the entry of IKEA in 2006 it has been growing fast. It is aiming for 450 stores by 2017 including a beachhead in the US market with its first stores opening in California before the end of 2013.

News in Brief
H&M to open Monki and Weekday chains this Spring, sales jump 53% in 2012
United Arrows signs New York select shop brand Steven Alan
IKEA confirms plans to open store for Chubu
Hankyu rolls out another specialty cosmetics chain
Tokyu’s plans for Shibuya take shape
Move over Rakuten: free online stores
Licensed brand market falls 2.9%
Cross Company seeks growth through Can
Roppongi malls revamp
Sazaby signs license for US brand Demylee
Scroll aims to revitalise Rapty catalogue
TSI promises profit by next year
Gift Market up 2.1%
Kennel & Schmenger opens in Japan
Aeon absorbs Digital Direct
Actus to begin new CHAIN expansion
Mitsui Real Estate to open 4 new SCs
Seiyu expands direct imports of US beef
Rakuten wins: Online OTC drug sales get go ahead
Seicomart expands in-house agricultural production
Looking forward to Valentine’s Day
Rakuten announces 700,000 items ready for delivery – tomorrow
Takisada Osaka buys Olive des Olive
Daiei goes for the Plus Size Niche

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