Takashimaya launches shopping centre specialty chain

Nov 02

The small format chain ambitions of the major department stores are a great opportunity for overseas brands to reach new parts of the country and new customers. Isetan Salone was there first and is very much a high end select shop, but now Takashimaya has come up with its own chain, one designed specifically for the SC market and almost entirely dedicated to accessories, shoes and cosmetics.

Takashimaya opened the first in a new chain of specialty stores at the end of October. Called Takashimaya Style Maison, this new variation on the old department store satellite store is located in the new Lalaport SC in Ebina, Kanagawa.

Takashimaya is following the lead set by Isetan-Mitsukoshi in shifting investment from large scale department stores to small format chain retailing in order to find new growth in a saturated department store market. Takashimaya already has two cosmetics stores called Million Doors, as well as three food specialty stores called Takashimaya Food Maison.

Like these, Style Maison has been designed for shopping centres. The 750 sqm Ebina store has a more middle market positioning than Isetan-Mitsukoshi’s luxury boutique, Isetan Salone, although with a similar focus on accessories. It has a store design to match the SC location, although perhaps too much of a department store feel – clunky store furniture breaking the line of sight, cluttered displays, long lines of dreary shelving and so on. It’s still early days.

On the positive side is the merchandise mix. This has clearly been designed to fill a gap in the typical SC offer. Department store cosmetics feature strongly, with distinct branded islands, and these should be popular with SC visitors looking for top end international brands and department store style counselling without having to trek to an actual department store – there is also a large self-service organic/natural cosmetics area. Cosmetics make up 20% of merchandise, fashion accessories 30%, shoes and hosiery 30%, apparel and accessories like towels and bath goods, 15%.

Having shoes make up 30% of merchandise is a good idea, introducing the kind of premium footwear brands rarely seen in SCs before, but with considerable appeal in premium SCs in the more affluent areas like Ebina. In addition, there are a plethora of accessories ranging from umbrellas to sunglasses, and home decoration. Apparel is mostly casual premium fashions such as upmarket jeans, casual jackets and blouses. Finally there are children’s toys and gadgets, ensuring family visitors can stay occupied, and upscale foods such as cookies and teas, suitable for gifts.

Store design aside, the focus on accessories, and on categories poorly served by other SC tenants, makes for a very browsable, mixed merchandise store that is well-suited to SCs, and which should appeal to both the traditional department store customer, but more importantly a younger segment – the core target is 30s-40s women.

The store also includes a cafe called Art de Pain from French baker, Richard Dorffer, which should ensure plenty of traffic to the store.

All in all Maison Style looks like being a solid start for Takashimaya’s small format ambitions. While it is merely aping Isetan-Mitsukoshi in strategy, its own execution of this is wisely very different; it cannot compete with the Isetan name on cachet and fashion credentials, but it can on general prestige and trust, and the store is all about this. Other than private brands, the merchandise can mostly be bought online and in other stores, but consumer trust in Takashimaya and its latent prestige should help drive traffic and sales – Takashimaya itself plans to create an online store under the same banner.

Takashimaya is hoping for sales of ¥700 million per year from the store.

Takashimaya opens first watch stand alone store

As well as experiments in SC retailing, Takashimaya opened what may be just the first of many stand alone watch stores last month. Located just across from Takashimaya Nihonbashi on the street level of an office block, Takashimaya Watch Maison is an 800 sqm watch emporium selling 83 brands of watches, with forecast sales of a cool ¥5.2 billion a year. Takashimaya says the store cost ¥600 million to fit out, and looks the part with digital window displays and display cases lining the curved staircase up to the second floor.

As well as displays by style and price – prices range from ¥20,000 to ¥363 million (no, not a misprint) – there are distinct corners and a prominent Rolex store, as well as a corner selling 20,000 types of watch bands, and watch repair & cleaning services.

Takashimaya says there is lots of demand from both Japanese and tourists for a dedicated watch store, with many customers apparently saying department store watch floors are cramped, too public, and noisy. Takashimaya also hopes the street level location will encourage more spontaneous visits especially from tourists and younger Japanese who wouldn’t normally spend time browsing in a department store.

The store is also well timed for Nihonbashi given the upcoming plans to transform the main Takashimaya store and surrounding area with a new SC and office/residential development, and the ongoing revival of the area by Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

Takashimaya says watch sales jumped 60% in 1H2015 at Nihonbashi, with sales of ¥3 million plus watches particularly strong – it won’t take many multi-million Yen watch sales to meet its targets.