Highlights March 2015

Mar 08

FOCUS: Weddings: fewer, but more fun and opportunity
On the surface it seems that Japan might be one of the worst prospects for anyone selling products or services related to weddings. Marriage rates are declining, because there are just fewer young people, but also because so many women don’t want to get married, often fearful of losing their career. There is good news. With more people marrying later, budgets are larger and the demand for bespoke weddings higher – and some women simply give up and have a ‘solo wedding’, creating an entirely new market in itself. All in all, this means the value of the market is holding up. With less share going to formulaic wedding firms and the jewellery, fashion and food & beverage suppliers tied to them, there is more opportunity than ever for innovative overseas players.

TopShop: another British retail disaster in Japan?
Large British fashion retailers haven’t had a great time of it in Japan, and last month the record got even worse after TopShop’s franchise partner suddenly closed all of its stores with little notice. TopShop is reported to be looking for a new partner, but when competitors have shown the merits of direct investment it still begs the question why.

Another great year for SC expansion
Despite tight labour markets in construction and retail which led Aeon and others to halve the number of planned SCs this year, 2015 looks like being another strong year for new shopping malls, both in suburban and city centre locations, with Nagoya a particular focus for investment.

Radishboya: branded veggies
Radishboya, a specialist online supermarket owned by NTT Docomo, is expanding into branded vegetable ranges.

Itochu signs Scotch & Soda, plans further expansion
Itochu Shoji may already be the biggest fashion distributor among the Sogo Shosha but it plans a renewed push in brand distribution both at home, where it sees a significant uplift from the tourist market, and across Asia. It is looking for brands across a broad range of segments.

Glamour-Sales sees record sales
Glamour-Sales is, along with Oak Lawn Marketing, one of very few success stories among Japanese non-store businesses set up by foreign residents. Since the launch five years ago, Glamour-Sales has carved a significant share of the flash sales market. Following US$65 million in new backing last year, it is expanding quickly, and with 50% of brands from overseas, is proving a useful partner for international consumer goods businesses.

Lalaport Izumi targeting young mothers
Lalaport Izumi is the latest in Mitsui’s growing chain of large, suburban family shopping centres. While some developers still aim at broad customer segments in the hope of attracting customers from a wide area, many suffer from low footfall during weekdays, but Mitsui is once again proving that it is able to target local shopping needs without alienating the wider catchment.

Aeon: where’s the profit?
As Japanese retailers gear up to announce end of year results, few analysts are expecting good news from the biggest retailer, Aeon. The group has managed to move forward in terms of sales growth, but profits were well down in the first three quarters and it continues to struggle with its overall strategy. Senior management at key subsidiaries is likely to be replaced as a result.

Inageya and Summit to expand farm operations
Supermarket chains are increasing their direct farming interests. With Japan’s farm sector in decline and imports problematic and expensive, serious food retailers have both the opportunity and the need to take better control over their food supply chains. This is even more the case for growing Tokyo chains like Inageya and Summit.

Magaseek & Start Today running more retailer e-commerce
Although many major fashion brands now sell through online malls, there is a growing shift towards taking greater direct control of online sales. This leaves the two main online fashion malls Magaseek and Start Today with a major problem. Both are trying to solve this issue by providing consulting and operating services in addition to their portal sites.

Cross Company to scrap permanent-only contracts in tight labour market
Japan’s fastest growing fashion retailer for the past decade has announced a surprising move to do away with its policy of only employing permanent staff. The move comes as it plans to increase store numbers by more than a third in the next three years. In contrast, rival chains are keen to offer more permanent positions.

Shimamura sales on the rise again
Shimamura had a tough time in the first half of FY2014, partly due to the waning enthusiasm for its young women’s fashions. It is now doing much better, as a result of further expansion of private brands, particularly for its core target of housewives. More work needs to be done to raise its game, in particular store design, but the discount apparel market remains strong, suggesting plenty of scope for further growth.

News in Brief
GMS apparel continues to decline
Autobacs opens in GMS
Abundance and Sunrally to form capital tie-up
Kate Spade Japan hits ¥13 billion
Baby & Taylor launches in Japan
Aeon opens new Cox concept aimed at couples
Gunze opens womens’ lingerie online store
Nails Inc trials pop-up stores in Japan
Coop to unify branding
Walmart selling imported bras in 94 Seiyu stores
Sanki signs Oscar de la Renta to target expanding wealth market
Musashi Kosugi to see more development
Mixi buys fashion e-commerce venture
Large store applications continue strong
Amazon JAPAN sales rise 12%
Dadway introduces discount childrenswear
GMS chain sales down 1.7% in January
Bals creates home fashion store for Ito-Yokado
Seven & I acquires rest of Barney’s Japan, PLANS new store in Roppongi in 2016
Government introduces new ‘eco-points’ scheme for home reform
Muji to open major store in Fukuoka, launches apparel recycling scheme

Company and Brand Index this month
Numbers indicate page of report:

[columns count=”4″]Accessorize, 3
Aeon, 1, 3-5, 8-11
Akachan Honpo, 7
Amazon Japan, 5
Amu Plaza, 4
Anteprima, 6
Arcadia Group, 3
Autobacs, 11
Aveda, 10
Bals, 3
Barney’s New York, 3
Beenos, 6
Bon Bon Home, 3
Bramhope, 6
Brandear, 6
Brunello Cucinelli, 6
Bulgari, 15
Cacherel, 6
Citizen, 10
Closshi, 11
Cloud Nine Tokyo, 9
Coop Kobe, 7
Coronet, 5
Cosmos Yakuhin, 5
Cox, 10
Cross Company, 1, 10
Dadway, 6
Daiei, 8
Defacto Standard, 6
Dinos-Cecile, 6
E-Land, 3
Eastpak, 5
Edwin, 6
FiveO Tokyo, 9
Forte Forte, 6
French Connection, 3
Fujimi Lalaport, 4
Glamour-Sales, 1, 6-7
GU, 11
Gunze, 11
Harajuku Alta, 4
Harukas Style, 10
Hunter Boots, 6
Hunting World, 6
Inageya, 1, 9
Infinity Venture Partners, 9
Irina, 9
Ito-Yokado, 3, 8, 11
Itochu Fashion System, 6
Itochu Shoji, 3, 5-6
JBF Partners, 1
Joix Corporation, 5
JR East, 4
JR Takashimaya, 4
Kate Spade, 9-10
Kintetsu Department Store, 10
Krug, 10
La Foret Harajuku, 3
Lalaport, 1, 4, 7
Lawson, 5
Le Creuset, 7
Le Sportsac, 6
Lydia, 10
Maxvalu, 8
Ministop, 8
Mitsui, 4-5, 7
Mixi, 8-9
Mixxo, 3
Mori Building, 1
Mujirushi Ryohin, 4
Nails Inc, 7
Nice Claup, 11
NTT Docomo, 5
Oasis, 3
Old Navy, 7
Olives de Olives, 11
Onward Holdings, 9
Opaque, 7
Oscar de la Renta, 8
Parco, 4
Paul Smith, 5-6
Penfield, 6
Primark, 1
Radishboya, 1, 5
RC Holdings, 6
Sanki, 6, 8
Sanki Shoji, 8
Scotch & Soda, 1, 5
Seibu, 7, 14
Seiyu, 8
Seven Eleven, 8
Spao, 3
Spiral Girl, 11
Start Today, 1, 9-10
Sugukon Navi, 15
Sumitomo Shoji, 3, 9
Summit, 1, 9
Sunrally Group, 9
Takashimaya, 4
Take and Give Needs, 14-15
Ted Baker, 3
Tobu, 4
Top Shop, 3
Uniqlo, 3, 10-11
United Arrows, 10
Uny, 11
Vacheron Constantin, 10
Valerie Toyomura, 10
Vence Exchange, 10
Vinatex, 6
Walmart, 8
Welcia Holdings, 8
Xebio, 3
Yahoo Auctions, 6
Yamada Denki, 4, 6
York Benimaru, 8
Zara, 1
Zexy, 13-15
Zozotown, 1, 10
[/columns]

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