May 2015 News in Brief

May 15

Fred Segal opens in Log Road SC in Daikanyama

Fred Segal opened its first Japanese store last month within a new 2,000 sqm shopping space operated by Tokyu in Daikanyama. Fred Segal in Japan is operated under a franchise by Mark Styler. Along with Fred Segal, which has both men’s and women’s stores and a food select shop called Fred Segal Mart in the building, the SC boasts a restaurant and bar operated by craft brewery brand Spring Valley Brewery, and the third branch of US coffee chain Blue Bottle Coffee. This month, the San Francisco cafe, Tartine Bakery & Cafe will open on the top floor, complete with roof terrace.

Bamford comes to Japan

The update to Tokyo Midtown last month included several upscale stores targeting wealthy local residents. One of these is the first Japanese store for British lifestyle brand Bamford. Bamford was founded by Lady Carole Bamford in 2006, the wife of the owner of the JCB construction machinery business and the founder of a chain of organic food shops called Daylesford Organic Farmshops. The flagship mixes fashion – mostly ‘roomwear’– and a range of bath & body goods with an emphasis on natural ingredients and fabrics. There is also a high end spa within the space. This is just the third store in the world for Bamford with two others in the UK.

Isetan-Mitsukoshi opens store in Aeon Laketown

Isetan-Mitsukoshi opened a branch of its MI Plaza chain in Aeon Laketown late April. MI Plaza caters to seniors with a mix of apparel, gifts, accessories and food. Until now most MI Plaza stores have been built in former Mitsukoshi satellite stores, but with strong sales, the department store group is now beginning to roll out stores in SCs and other high footfall locations. The 370 sqm store in Laketown offers a higher ratio of gifts and apparel items. Further SC locations for the chain are expected in the next few months.

JINS opens San Francisco flagship

Eyewear retailer JINS just opened its first overseas store in San Francisco’s Union Square, creating a temple of minimal design akin to an Apple store, but with Japanese aesthetics. It features a futuristic production line to showcase JINS rapid 30 minute lead time for producing custom eyewear with lenses to order in an automated in-store factory – the automated production system was first unveiled at the JINS Kichijoji store in 2013. All in all the store does well to communicate the brand’s key themes of Japanese design, quality and aesthetics, its vast array of 1,200 SKUs, and the low prices – $60-120 a pair against typical US prices of $300. JINS launched a US online store at the same time.

Actus and Zara Home bring home fashions to Futako Tamagawa

In April Zara opened its second largest Zara Home store to date in Futako Tamagawa, in the annex to Futako Tamagawa Rise SC, Terrace Market. The 620 sqm store is the twelfth Zara Home in Japan since the launch in Spring 2013 in Osaka, and the second largest after the Aoyama store, itself one of the best performing Zara Home stores in the world. The extra space has been put to good use with large presentation displays for beds, dining tables and scores of tables laden with Zara Home’s wide variety of cushions, towels, frames, bedlinen, decorative items and other home fashion merchandise. Around the walls are colourful floor to ceiling racks of towels, curtains and bedlinen. Nearby is another home fashion store from Actus. Unlike most shops in the Actus chain, the new 800 sqm store has a much larger ratio of furniture with more sample room displays. The store targets families, with a number of children’s room displays also featured, as well as dining, living and kitchen sections. The store also features some new lines of private branded merchandise such as kitchen goods, hand creams, diffusers and candles. Imported brands of furniture predominate to target the high income households in the area.

Pal plans 50 stores for Salut! low price accessories chain

Pal Group is continuing to diversify away from its apparel roots, adding more stores in accessories and home fashion. It has a large ¥300 chain called 3Coins selling home and apparel accessories, but now plans to double the number of stores for its ¥990 chain called Salut! to 50 within three years. Salut! currently has 27 stores, but in March it opened a new store in Lalaport Tokyo Bay, featuring a major update to the merchandise range. The new Salut! sells a variety of bags, accessories, home fashions such as curtains, cushions and bed linen, and gifts in basic, ‘natural taste’ colours and styles, and a heavy emphasis on canvas and denim. Stores are about 150 sqm with 2,000 SKUs. About 60% of product is sold at ¥990, but prices range from ¥290 for accessories like candle holders to ¥5,000 for small furniture items such as shoe racks. The bulk of Salut! merchandise used to be apparel and fashion accessories, but the reconfigured format now focuses largely on home fashions, stationery and bathroom products due to high demand from customers.

Amazon sells resort weddings

Amazon has begun selling wedding ceremonies. The wedding services are provided by World Bridal and include both domestic and overseas locations, mostly in resorts. Resort weddings offer a simple, casual wedding ceremony and a nice holiday, along with a DVD to mark the occasion, and are popular with couples that have already married at the local town hall, but didn’t have a ceremony. They are also popular with older couples either marrying for the first time or remarrying. One of the features of World Bridal that makes it a good fit with Amazon is its clear and simple pricing policy. It offers just three prices (¥300,000, ¥500,000 and ¥650,000) with a range of locations within each price. As recently reported in JC1503, the wedding market remains stable despite the falling population of young people. Yano’s most recent report suggests a market of ¥2.5 trillion this year, down 0.8% on 2014, but most industry players put the value of the market at around ¥3.5 trillion to ¥4 trillion.

Sazaby signs US brand Equipment

Sazaby League has been promising to sign more brands from the US and Europe and it is delivering. The latest is Equipment, an apparel brand operated by Californian firm Dutch. Equipment is already popular with select shop and department store buyers here, and Sazaby will continue to wholesale to these customers while rolling out stores in premium SCs and fashion buildings. Sazaby believes the brand’s emphasis on timeless fashions will find a ready market in Japan, where Sazaby sees expanding demand for clothing that lasts both in quality and style. Equipment recently opened flagships in New York and California and plans others in key capitals like London and Paris. Sazaby plans a similar flagship in Tokyo to mark the brand’s 40th anniversary in 2016. Prices in Japan range around ¥25,000-35,000 for shirts and ¥60,000-80,000 for jackets. Sazaby League continues to sign up an eclectic selection of brands and chains; it recently signed a franchise for popular New York hamburger chain Shake Shack.

Sanuk sets up in Japan

Californian footwear brand Sanuk opened its first Japanese store last month. Located within Okinawa Rycom, Aeon’s giant new mall in Okinawa, the store sells the full range of sandals such as its Yoga Mat Sandals and Sidewalk Surfer ‘sandal-shoe hybrids’ that have made Sanuk a popular lifestyle brand in the US and increasingly in other markets too, with sales now to 45 countries. The store is operated by Deckers Japan – Deckers acquired Sanuk in 2011. The strong branding of a fun, humorous Californian lifestyle along with the innovative designs and quality should appeal strongly to Japanese consumers.

Dyson chooses Tokyo for first ever store

UK appliances manufacturer Dyson opened its first store in the world last month, in Omotesando. The 100 sqm store showcases Dyson’s collection of high tech cyclone vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans and ultra long lasting LED lights. It provides four different flooring types, including tatami, to allow customers to try out the vacuum cleaners in store. The sleekly designed shop is a beachhead by Dyson to further penetrate the Japanese market. Japan is already Dyson’s second biggest market, accounting for around 20% of turnover – some ¥50 billion in sales – giving it 24% of the Japanese market by value, the largest share, and 11% by unit, but Dyson believes there is significant potential for further growth. As well as the new store, Dyson has started a major campaign at electronics stores, and is hoping to raise unit market share to 18% this year alone. According to GFK Japan, a market research firm, Japanese vacuum sales rose 6% in 2014 to 9.31 million units.

Inditex to open 15 stores in Japan in 2015

Inditex Japan plans to open 15 stores here during 2015 according to Jesús Echeverría, a top executive at Inditex Group in Spain, whilst on a visit to Japan. In 2014 the Japanese arm opened 20 stores. As of early April, Inditex operated 95 Zara stores in Japan, 21 Bershka stores, 11 Zara Home stores and 11 Stradivarius stores, a total of 138. As well as new shops, Inditex plans to refurbish others as well as introduce a new logistics system. This will include RFID tags which will likely be introduced into Japan stores for the first time from this month, with the roll out and training completed by October. Online, Zara Home will begin its own e-commerce sales from this month.

Keio plans 10 small format stores

Keio Department Store opened a satellite store in the new Lalaport in Fujimi last month. The 240 sqm store is just the third small format shop following others in Lalaport Shin Misato and Celeo Hachioji. It targets the same segment as its Shinjuku flagship, women in their late 50s and up, with clothes, shoes, cosmetics, accessories, sweets and even some Japanese tableware. Although Keio has not opened a new small store for several years, it says it is now confident in the merchandising and store operation. It will create a 10 store chain within the next few years. Keio says developers like its concept because there are few chains targeting the older market, and even fewer with the brand loyalty of Keio. Recently other department stores have entered the senior specialty market, notably Isetan-Mitsukoshi through its MI Plaza chain and Maruhiro Department store which now has three stores under the Season Closet Maruhiro banner.

KDDI buys Luxa

KDDI has acquired Luxa (, an e-commerce business focusing on flash sales of limited lots of premium brands. In November 2013 KDDI invested ¥330 million in Luxa through its Open Innovation Fund, but seeing the progress of the site, decided to acquire control. Luxa’s products include cosmetics, furniture, food, kitchenware and gadgets as well as hotel and other travel packages. A new mobile page was launched for the service within KDDI’s smartphone site late last year, with KDDI also marketing the store to its 8 million au smartphone subscribers. Luxa is targeting a user base of 3.5 million by the end of 2016, up from 450,000 now. In addition to Luxa, KDDI has a joint venture with DeNA subsidiary Mbok to operate its au shopping mall, with sales of just ¥2.6 billion in 2012.

Randa hits 50 shoe stores

Fast growing women’s footwear chain, Randa (, will open its 50th store this Spring. In total five stores will be opened in the next two months, including the first store in Taiwan. Randa sells its own lines of fashion footwear targeting women in their 20s. Its latest store in Ikebukuro Echika is called Randa Cleporte and is a small format model developed for station buildings. Prices are around ¥3,000-9,000 for sandals, ¥4,000-9,000 for pumps and up to ¥13,000 for boots. Most Randa stores are small with little stockroom, but to offset this problem Randa offers free next day delivery to customers’ homes. Randa is operated by J.B.Co a retailer of footwear and apparel. Its other chains are A de Vivre, Lucca Llena and Acid Styles.

Tutuanna stores in China to outnumber Japan chain

Lingerie and hosiery retailer Tutuanna will open around 100 stores in China and Taiwan this year. This will take its overseas chain to close to 270 stores, exceeding the number in Japan, where it will add just 20 stores, bringing the total to 250. Tutuanna will focus China expansion in department stores and SCs and is working with 23 local partners as store operators. Tutuanna has become popular in China due to a strong focus on its Japanese provenance, offering a ‘cute’ store image and a plethora of styles and SKUs across both underwear and hosiery.

Anders: a shop window to the world for Japan’s designers 

Creema, an online market place for designers and artisans, launched a new app last month to showcase Japanese designers, artists and crafts to the world. Called Anders, the app is currently available in six countries: Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Taiwan and the US. It will introduce new products weekly including fashion accessories and household goods. To encourage new customers, users can earn rewards for introducing friends to the store. Creema hopes the Japan focus will help it create a niche to compete with the giants in this sector like Etsy and Fab. Creema itself competes with similar market places in Japan like Tetote and Ichi.

Senshukai targets women in 30s and 50s with new catalogues

Senshukai launched a new catalogue for working women in their 30s in March. Called Rirne, the catalogue has been designed with e-commerce in mind, with a joint launch online and through printed catalogues, and a faster turnaround to respond better to seasonal trends. The online store also features rankings and regularly updated advice from stylists. Overall the Spring catalogue contains some 105 styles and 750 SKUs. Last month Senshukai unveiled another catalogue, Vialamo, dedicated to youthfully minded women in their 50s. The first 108 page catalogue went out with a print run of 500,000, featuring 1,300 SKUs. As with all recent new ventures, a large proportion of the new catalogue is sourced directly. It is sold under the catalogue brand, and has a focus on comfortable fit and high quality fabrics that are Made in Japan. Included is a collection developed with celebrity Chieko Kuroda called Kcarat.

Lawson opens in Philippines

Lawson opened its first store in Manila in late March. It plans to have 50 stores in operation by the end of the year and 500 by 2020. Lawson is working in a 30%-70% joint venture with Pure Gold Price Club, a local operator of hypermarkets and supermarkets. This is the fifth overseas venture for Lawson, adding to China, Indonesia, Hawaii and Thailand. The Philippines is already home to 1,300 Seven Eleven stores, as well as 465 Ministops and 91 Familymarts.

Toys ‘R’ Us opens Aprica and Combi baby buggy corners

Toys ‘R’ Us is opening large corners for baby buggy brands Aprica and Combi in four of its stores this Spring. The corners sell both baby buggies and car seats. The first corner opened in the new Toys ‘R’ Us in Aeon Rycom in Okinawa with the other corners due this month in Odaiba, Kobe Harborland and Yokohama. On hand to help prospective parents are advisors specialising in baby goods.

Mitsui outlines plans for Osaka’s biggest SC

Mitsui will open what will be Osaka’s biggest SC on the old Osaka Expo site this Autumn. Expocity will have 300 tenants in the 180,000 sqm space and consist of seven distinct buildings. It is expected to become the leading entertainment zone for the Kansai region, including a stadium, park and other leisure facilities. A ‘living museum’ called Nifrel, operated by Kayukan, a large ferris wheel and Osaka English Village, a ‘family farm’, and a 109 cineplex will be some of the attractions. Lalaport Expocity will house a theme park style branch of electronics store Edion and a range of fashion and sports brands not seen in Kansai until now.

Amu Plaza Kagoshima posts record sales again

The JR Kyushu operated SC Amu Plaza Kagoshima posted record sales for the year ending March 2015, up 6% to ¥24.6 billion. This is the fifth straight year of record sales. Footfall was up 16%. In 2014, JR Kyushu opened an annex to the building as well as replacing 60 of the 128 tenants during the year.

Asahi Shimbun plans new shopping in Ginza in 2017

Asahi Shimbun will redevelop land in Ginza 6 Chome, creating a new 17,000 sqm building which will open on to Namiki Dori. The bulk of the space will be turned over to retailers on the lower floors, with an international brand of luxury boutique hotel above. Asahi Shimbun has owned the land since 1888.

Theme parks have a storming 2014 

Some consumers cut back spending last year, but not, it seems, theme park visitors. Nine of the 12 largest theme parks recorded increases compared to 2013. At Tokyo Disney Resort, visitor numbers increased 0.3% to 31.37 million, a record number and even higher than the massively promoted 30th anniversary year in 2013 – the movie Frozen was a far bigger than expected draw in the first three months. Similarly Universal Studios Japan saw visitor numbers also hit a new record, up 21% to 12.7 million, the highest since the park’s first year in 2001 when it attracted 11.03 million. A new Harry Potter themed area was very popular. Other parks also did well, such as Sanrio Puroland and Fujikyu Highland. Huis Ten Bosch, the vaguely Dutch themed park in Kyushu that is still recovering from bankruptcy, saw spend per visitor jump 7.6%, while Hirakata Park in Osaka also saw spending up 1.5% per person. Eleven of the leading chains expect to perform even better this year.