Mitsukoshi: a select shop for the over 60s and an SC for young women

Oct 15

Isetan-Mitsukoshi continues to take direct control of parts of its sales floors. The new areas are being turned into self-managed concessions and mini shopping centres in order to clarify the positioning of each branch to better suit local traffic. All of this means opportunities for overseas brands. The latest are a select shop for the over 60s in Nihonbashi and a mini SC for working women in Kyushu.

Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi opened a new store-managed sales floor last month called Le Style Lady to appeal to older women interested in fashion. Le Style is a sales floor brand used at Isetan Shinjuku selling high fashion merchandise selected by Isetan’s top buyers, but the Mitsukoshi version is firmly targeted at the over 60s, while still focusing on distinctive fashion labels and designs.

Located on the 4th floor, the 40 sqm space mixes a wide range of accessories and apparel ephemera such as handkerchiefs and umbrellas with apparel, and the display is designed to show customers how to coordinate items to best effect. Perhaps as important, the large and comfy fitting room area also includes a large dining table and chairs dubbed the “chatting space”, where customers can have a natter and read a selection of magazines too. 26 brands are sold.

Le Style Lady is just one more example of the use of directly managed sales floors to sharpen the profile of each department store branch to fit its target market. Over in Kyushu, Mitsukoshi Fukuoka opened a new floor in its basement last month called La Chic, dedicated to young working women complete with its own website (www.lachic-fukuoka.jp). Mitsukoshi says research showed local working women tended to wear more casual apparel to work than those in the capital, and saw an opportunity to create a dedicated space for this segment that wasn’t catered to by other department stores in the region.

The 3,100 sqm space on the basement level houses 58 specialty store tenants. Crucially, apparel makes up just 35% of the mix, with the rest spread across accessories, cosmetics, home and other lifestyle merchandise, all split across three distinct zones. The first, South Zone Maison, is designed to look like a contemporary house with white walls and wood floors, the Centre Zone Bazaar as a market offering cute accessory stores and fashions, and North Zone Ville as a more sophisticated fashion zone. Many tenants are new to Kyushu and at least six completely new stores.

Small format store to open in Mitsukoshi founder’s home town

Isetan-Mitsukoshi Holdings has signed a collaboration with the city of Matsuzaka, the birthplace of the founder of both Mitsui and the store that eventually became Mitsukoshi. Mitsui was founded by Mitsui Hachirobe-Takatoshi in Matsuzaka, Mie Prefecture in the 17th century. Mitsui’s father opened a pawnbroking business and a sake shop under the banner Echigoya, but in 1673 Takatoshi moved to Edo (now Tokyo), opening a drapery store under the same name in Nihonbashi, a store that eventually became Mitsukoshi. The store was the first to offer stock for sale on the premises rather than for order, and at fixed prices for cash rather than credit and was an immediate hit, especially with the growing merchant class. He then used the profits to open a money exchange, which became the basis of the Mitsui empire. Until recently Matsuzaka at least had a small satellite Mitsukoshi store as a memorial to Mitsui, but this was closed as part of the restructuring of the group. Isetan-Mitsukoshi now plans to build a new 300-500 sqm store which will celebrate the origins of the Mitsukoshi and Mitsui businesses, while also fitting in with its plans to create a series of small format stores.

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