JapanConsuming: Headlines May 2013

May 06
JC1304

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Focus: From virtual customers to real and back again: O2O marketing takes off
Now that e-commerce is the fastest growing channel by far, high street retailers need to work harder than ever to pull in customers. Until recently pure e-commerce businesses had an advantage over physical stores in exploiting online marketing tools, but arguably there’s no longer any reason why high street retailers can’t use the same tools now that everyone carries the internet around in their pocket. Online marketing is increasingly personal and local, helping pull eyeballs from screens and get bodies into stores. No wonder then that everyone in Japanese retailing is talking about Online to Offline Marketing (O2O).

Department store earnings soar
Department store profits are rising. Much of the growth has come on the back of stronger sales of luxury items in the last six months and several years of hard work cutting overhead. Future profit is being sought through diversification as groups become less dependent on traditional department store retailing.

Editorial: Advantages of Prosperity Policy

A new growth brand for Onward: Charles & Keith
The arrival of powerful fashion retailers from Asia has been a theme this Spring. Korean retailer E-Land began opening stores in March (see JC1303) but last month saw the unveiling of the first stores for Charles & Keith, the Singapore retailer which does for shoes and accessories what H&M and Zara do for apparel.

Aeon to delete Daiei
Last month Aeon announced that it was launching a takeover bid for Daiei (see JC 1304), the retailer which, like Aeon today, was once the country’s largest. Although the move has been on the cards for years, long-time Daiei managers had hoped to see the once revered Daiei name survive. It looks increasingly likely that it won’t – indeed there is a strong argument that it shouldn’t survive.

Total population falls, but 30 million over 65
Japan’s population continues to shrink, not least because foreigners keep leaving. A fifth of the 284,000 drop in population in 2012 was accounted for by foreigners moving out. At the same time, people 65 and older now make up 30% of the total and outnumber children throughout the country. Even Tokyo and surrounding prefectures saw population decline due to fewer births.

Point restructures for more acquisitions and overseas expansion
Point will convert into a holding company later this year. The company will oversee recently acquired businesses and buy more. As well as acquiring promising retail assets, it will also acquire apparel producers. It plans to reduce its dependence on third parties for product planning in order to better combat the threat from local and foreign competitors.

Ito-Yokado to transform apparel floors
Seven & I is aiming to boost own brand apparel to 70% at Ito-Yokado in a bid to stem the decline in sales and claw back some of the profitability lost in the last 15 years. New brands will have dedicated concessions and at the same time Seven & I is installing more tenants to help brighten what are at best very beige stores. Among the tenants are mini Seibu stores, and the latest includes a cosmetics store to rival Isetan Mirror.

Convenience stores set about attracting more women
Convenience stores are at last seeing an increase in the number of women shoppers – and mostly thanks to own brand development that allows chains to offer genuinely unique products that attract them. One recent survey suggests that more women are shopping in convenience stores, especially for desserts.

Cecile to buy Image apparel business
Cecile will acquire the apparel operations of rival direct marketer Image Holdings later this year. Cecile itself is in the process of being merged with Dinos by Fuji Media, part of a plan by the media giant to create a larger, non-store consumer products business to compete with Nissen and Senshukai. The Image business will help it better target young women.

Lawson profit jumps 6%
Lawson, the number two convenience store chain, continues to improve and is expecting another record breaking year in FY2012. Like all leading chains, Lawson is cautious about the future given the increasing level of saturation in the format, but it arguably has far more reasons to be optimistic. The chain will now shift from expanding volume and focus more on its already strong bottom line.

Locondo expands into apparel
Locondo began as a copy of Zappos, the US online footwear giant now owned by Amazon, but as of last month it began selling apparel brands too. Like many online businesses it is being forced to offer free shipping and returns to compete with Amazon Japan. Other companies are realising they also have no choice but to offer free shipping for online stores.

F&A Aqua to expand jewellery brands
F&A Aqua Holdings, has begun a rollout of new brands to reach markets outside the remit of its core 4°C chain with two new brands planned for suburban and regional markets. The aggressive round of expansion is backed by strong financial results and buoyant consumer spending.

News in Brief:
Consumption up 5.2% in March
Aeon, Uniqlo, Shimamura oppose ban on tax promotions
British shirts for Japanese summers
Matsuya to renovate Ginza store
Aesop opens tiny but expressive Shibuya store
US select shops open more stores
Credge ownership transfers to MIT Partners
Aeon to open mega mall in Okayama
Parco profit hits new high
United Arrows opens eyewear concession
iQon ties with Yoox
Sazaby launches Soaptopia in Japan
TSI Holdings launches web magazine with Conde Nast
Megane Top to delist
Uniqlo rolls out new dresses in fashion magazine tie up
Hikarie sees 20 million visitors
Ekimo metro SC opens in Osaka
Ito-Yokado expanding part-time sales staff
Muji shifts housing business target to middle-aged
Ministop to add Aeon name and Topvalu goods
Danone plans to boost Japan production
Sundrug begins small format rollout
Pancake House and Juice Zone open in Japan

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