JapanConsuming: Headlines January 2014

Jan 08

Focus: Specialty apparel FY2012: gaining further ground
The results for specialty apparel retailing in FY2012 were even better than 2011, reflecting higher spending on premium fashions as well as a general uplift in consumer demand. The top specialty apparel retailers outperformed the market, averaging 9.1% growth and now account for 35% of the entire apparel market – the top 20 alone own 25%. Womenswear retailers grew the fastest, boosted by a cluster of up and coming middle ranking retailers like Trinity Arts and Mash Style Lab that posted sales up more than 50%.

Editorial: Unavoidable online retail

Seven & I acquisition spree in bid to be first omnichannel conglomerate
Seven & I Holdings has a problem. In FY2012, Seven Eleven still accounted for 81% of the group’s net profits. It’s not surprising then that the group’s chairman, Toshifumi Suzuki, is keen to find new alternatives. This is the main thrust to four separate acquisitions announced in December, with the long-term goal of creating the first genuine omnichannel retailer, integrating physical stores with e-commerce.

IKEA: 10 stores by 2016
IKEA has been operating in Japan since 2006, but went on a short hiatus, opening no new stores between 2008 and 2012. That has now changed. Following the opening in Fukuoka in 2012, it will now add a further four stores over the next two years – the same one or two stores a year pace that it sets in many markets, with a goal of 14 stores by 2020. Confirmed as the number two home furnishings chain in the country, the new stores should push sales to well over ¥100 billion a year.

Aeon Makuhari the leisure centre
Aeon heralds each of its new large malls as a new era of mould-breaking shopping, but often reveals something more prosaic. Makuhari Shintoshin may be the exception. While there is nothing startlingly original in the individual components that make up the SC, overall it is one of the more forward thinking developments of recent years, offering a level of entertainment and services that could ensure a consistent level of footfall well beyond people simply coming to shop.

Census: Corporate retailing takes over, 66 small stores closing every day
From the 1960s right up until 2007, METI conducted its Census of Commerce, regularly updating the world on the minutiae of the distribution sector – and making a case for protection of small, largely uncompetitive players who supported the ruling party. That motivation has now been largely overtaken by political reality and the Census has been subsumed into the Economic Census, the latest results for which were released in November.

Cookpad: making food shopping easy
Cookpad is a recipe website, but clever marketing has made it perhaps one of the world’s most successful. It was developed at just the right time and in the past few years the switch to smartphones and tablets has helped it advance even further. In December the company made a series of acquisitions, taking on a new online tutor operation as well as two companies overseas. It continues to expand its links with food brands and retailers, and to come up with new innovations to help people cook.

Start Today goes after Rakuten
Start Today has launched a new market place offering SMEs in the apparel and fashion world access to its large base of fashion consumers. It may well threaten the fashion merchant business at Rakuten and Yahoo but the move is also part of a much bigger story about who will win in e-commerce: general merchandise portals or specialty sites.

Urban Research and H&M open on LINE, LINE Mall also launches
As LINE continues to expand its user base, it is also capturing more corporate customers. As with Facebook and Twitter, LINE makes it easy for brands and retailers to engage directly with consumers, sending out information on special offers, events and new stores. LINE itself is now developing its own e-commerce revenues.

Food distribution consolidates further as tax rise pressures margins
Wholesalers are worried. Most already work on minuscule profit margins and they now face a new, powerful retail clientele more than capable of insisting that suppliers absorb part of the 3% consumption tax hike coming in April. The result is a rush to add scale, both in market share and logistics capability. Analysts expect a corresponding rush in wholesale M&As in the next 12 months.

US payment services target Japan as more Japanese buy from overseas
Paypal and Square are gaining traction in the Japanese market, potentially disrupting the cozy world of credit card processing with its fat fees and oligopolistic practices – even though Square itself is backed by one of Japan’s biggest card processors. Already Square’s entry into the market has forced Paypal to lower its fees. Paypal is proving popular not just for sales in Japan but also for the growing enthusiasm for buying direct from overseas.

Retail Data: Tourist sales up 122%

IN BRIEF
E-commerce sales to hit ¥21 trillion in 2018
Aeon to open 155,000 sqm SC in Wakayama, Takashimaya to close
@cosme hits 8 million monthly visitors and 11 million reviews
Hit Union acquires British firm, plans multi-brand strategy
Tamagawa Takashimaya update starting next month
Prada opens first Church’s flagship in Japan
Sonia by Sonia Rykiel launches in Japan
Seria sales rise 9%
Mitsui to open first outlet mall in Hokuriku
Isetan-Mitsukoshi to open popup store in New York
Shin Osaka station gets new shopping zone
Isetan-Mitsukoshi to launch new catalogues for seniors
Sports apparel market up 2.5%
Tablet use soaring
Lumine to open pop up store in Yokohama
Seiji Tsutsumi passes away
Radishbo-ya website renewal
Rakuten upset by new rules for online drug sales
Dreamy expanding customer base
Takarajimasha to launch new fashion mags in 2014
Ario Ichihara opens
Retailers and restaurants gearing up for high demand
Locondo tries its first physical store
Aeon Mall opens SC in Vietnam

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