July 14 2015

Highlights May 2015

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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FOCUS: 2014 Calendar Year Results: Leading chains make progress in difficult year

Calendar year results for the three big format sectors, department stores, GMS and supermarket chains, and convenience stores, provide a quick hint of what to expect from results at the end of the financial year. Although 2014 was a difficult year given the increase in prices from tax hikes and higher cost imports, on the whole the better retailers performed remarkably well. Consolidation at the top is set to continue.

Editorial: E-commerce: we’ve seen the future

Isetan opens first Salone, plans 10 stores by 2018
Small format retailing is Isetan-Mitsukoshi’s way out of the strictures of the department store market. Until now its boutiques have been in airports and outlet malls. Last month it opened Isetan Salone, the first in a chain of at least 10 upscale select shops. It also opened more middle market stores in Osaka that could morph into competitors for the likes of Beams and United Arrows.

Aeon taking axe to private brands
For some analysts Aeon Group’s enduring inability to turn its huge scale into profits is unforgiveable. The sense that it has hit make or break with its GMS chain was confirmed last month with news of far reaching strategic changes, some of which represent a reversal of 10 years of policy. While some of the changes being implemented would seem to make sense in the short-term, they don’t necessarily mean Aeon is on the right track.

Air wardrobes: sharing clothes and fashion tips online
The mountains of little used clothing and accessories piling up in the back of closets across Japan is suddenly an area ripe for exploration in the new online sharing boom. A new start up aims to help people clean-up, while another is offering rental services based on expert advice from stylists. There is even a crowd-sourced advisory service helping you find fresh ideas on outfits. All offer new marketing opportunities for fashion and lifestyle brands.

Outlet malls continue to expand
Outlet Malls continue to expand in Japan and Mitsui and Mitsubishi lead the way with some 80% of the market. The malls are now so popular and generate such traffic, both from domestic customers and tourists, that more and more brands are opening outlet stores with much wider strategic intent than just to sell off old stock.

J Front acquires stake in Senshukai to build omnichannel platform
Omnichannel retailing seems to be the holy grail for retailing these days. Seven & I catalysed the strategy when it bought Nissen, aiming to make it the centre of an omnichannel retail empire, and many other major retailers are looking to incorporate e-commerce as part of a multi-channel strategy too. Now J Front has followed suit, buying a large stake in Senshukai. This looks like being a better deal than the purchase of Nissen by Seven & I.

80% of retailers expecting increased profits in FY2015
While FY2014 was a complicated year for many retailers, the majority of publicly traded firms are optimistic about the next 12 months. Most leading retailers are expecting to report improved profits. Such confident forecasts reflect the fact that sales at the best retailers remain strong despite issues with the consumer economy as a whole, and further demonstrates just how capable some retail businesses have become.

Fashion site Fifth hits ¥1.4 billion in sales in 2nd year
Fifth is an online-only, fast fashion store with strong visuals. It is one of the more successful new e-commerce ventures, expecting to grow to sales of ¥10 billion within a few years. It also plans to sell its expertise to other fashion businesses needing help online.

Lawson ties with Sagawa to compete with Seven & I and Amazon
Lawson and Sagawa are launching a new joint venture next month that will eventually see Sagawa take over delivery services for 12,000 Lawson stores across the country. Even more significant, Sagawa will use the stores as small depots for its existing parcel delivery service, as well as delivering orders from stores direct to customers’ doors. This will soon extend to include a whole range of retailers and brands that Lawson is now signing up in a bid to take some of the online business from the likes of Seven & I and Amazon.

Fast Retailing to link up 3,000 stores globally through e-commerce
Fast Retailing has announced a new plan to boost online sales and make better use of IT in its stores. It expects to build new systems that allow sharing of online purchase data with store staff in the hope of providing better in-store services. The initiative will mean a significant increase in IT hires and the new system will roll out to some 3,000 stores globally.

Healthcare at convenience stores
Convenience stores are determined to become the hub of Japanese life, both selling essential goods but also a vast range of services, as well as becoming the local depots for online orders. The latest idea is to turn your local conbini into a quasi medical clinic, offering basic medical tests and products, particularly those targeting the senior market.

News in Brief
Fred Segal opens in Log Road SC in Daikanyama
Bamford comes to Japan
Isetan-Mitsukoshi opens store in Aeon Laketown
JINS opens San Francisco flagship
Actus and Zara Home bring home fashions to Futako Tamagawa
Pal plans 50 stores for Salut! low price accessories chain
Amazon sells resort weddings
Sazaby signs US brand Equipment
Sanuk sets up in Japan
Dyson chooses Tokyo for first ever store
Inditex to open 15 stores in Japan in 2015
Keio plans 10 small format stores
KDDI buys Luxa
Randa hits 50 shoe stores
Tutuanna stores in China to outnumber Japan chain
Anders: a shop window to the world for Japan’s designers
Senshukai targets women in 30s and 50s with new catalogues
Lawson opens in Philippines
Toys ‘R’ Us opens Aprica and Combi baby buggy corners
Mitsui outlines plans for Osaka’s biggest SC
Amu Plaza Kagoshima posts record sales again
Asahi Shimbun plans new shopping in Ginza in 2017
Theme parks have a storming 2014

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

[columns count=”4″]A de Vivre, 9
Actus, 4
Aeon, 1, 3-4, 6, 8, 10, 15
Aeon Laketown, 3
Ain Pharmaciez, 11
Air Closet, 5
Andaman, 5
Anders, 9
Aprica, 10
Aquagirl, 5
Bamford, 3
Baycrews, 1
Beams, 1, 6
Belle Maison, 6
Belle Neige, 7
Benebis, 7
Bershka, 7
Blue Bottle Coffee, 3
Bonsai Garage, 5
Care Lawson, 11
Circle K Sunkus, 8
Creema, 9
Daimaru-Matsuzakaya, 6-7
Daiwa House Kogyo, 10
Daylesford Organic Farmshops, 3
Dears Brain, 7
Deckers Japan, 6
DeNA, 8
Dyson, 6-7
Edion, 11
Estnation, 1, 5
Etsy, 9
Familymart, 8, 10-11
Fendi, 1
Fred Segal, 3
Fuji, 3, 15
Fujikyu Highland, 11
Gap, 11, 15
GFK Japan, 7
H2O Retailing, 14
Heiwado, 15
Huis Ten Bosch, 11
Inageya, 15
Inditex, 7, 11
Isetan Salone, 1
Isetan-Mitsukoshi, 1, 3, 8, 14-15
Ito-Yokado, 4, 15
Izumi, 15
Izumiya, 15
J. B. Co, 8
J Brand, 11
J Front Retailing, 2, 6
JR Kyushu, 11
Kaigo Lawson, 11
Keio Department Store, 7
Kikkoman, 4
Kintetsu, 13-15
Lalaport, 5, 7, 11
Life, 11, 15
Log Road SC, 3
Look, 2, 5, 13, 15
Lucca Llena, 9
Lucua, 1
Mackintosh, 6
Mark Styler, 3
Maruetsu, 15
Maruhiro Department, 8
Marui, 14
Matsuya, 13-14
Megmilk, 7
MI Plaza, 1, 3, 8
Ministop, 10
Mitsubishi-Simon, 6
Mitsui Real Estate, 6
Mitsukoshi Ginza, 14
Mobacolle, 7
Nifrel, 10
Nissen, 6-7
Odakyu, 14
Okinawa Rycom, 6
Old Navy, 11
Omnis, 5
Pal Group, 5
Parco, 7
Rakuten, 10
Randa Cleporte, 8
Restir, 1, 5
Sagawa Kyubin, 2, 9
Salut!, 5
Sanuk, 6
Sazaby League, 6
Seibu, 13-14
Seven Eleven, 2, 8-11
Seven Gold, 4
Seven Premium, 4
SG Holdings, 9
Shake Shack, 6
Sofuol, 7
Spring Valley Brewery, 3
Stradivarius, 7
Sustina, 5
Takashimaya, 8, 13-14
Tartine Bakery, 3
Tobu Ikebukuro, 13
Tokyo Disneyland, 6
Tokyo Midtown, 1, 3
TopValu, 3-4
Topvalu Black Label, 4
Traditional Weatherwear, 6
Tutuanna, 9
Union Square, 4
Uniqlo, 10-11
United Arrows, 1
Universal Studios Japan, 11
Uny, 15
Valentino, 1
Vivienne Tam, 6
Wis Net, 11
Yamato, 9
Yukijirushi Megmilk, 7
Zara, 4, 7
Zara Home, 4, 7


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