May 2017 Highlights

May 05

Home Fashion market expands within sluggish consumer economy

IKEA Japan opened an online store last month, much earlier than expected, and partly in response to its first ever year of negative growth. This is good news for the Swedish retailer, but it may not be enough. The original momentum of its early years suggested IKEA could become Japan’s leading furniture and home fashion chain and dominate the market, but the focus on a ‘one type fits all markets’ business model, in particular sticking with tried and tested big box stores, may well have held it back. That, and the unrelenting success of Nitori, the sector leader, which continues to experiment with new store ideas and locations, hoovering up yet more of the market. Other, smaller competitors are emerging, which is great news for international brands and designers of home fashion and furniture.

J Front to slash department store sales share to 44% in 5 years 
J Front has led the department store sector in terms of diversifying its business, including moving beyond a single retail format and merchandising model. This has been helped by canny acquisitions, such as that of Parco, and it is pressing ahead with new investments, particularly in SC development, to reduce its dependence on department stores further to less than 50% of sales.

Editorial: Lifestyle and convenience = sales

Parco to boost SC business, open new building in Kinshicho
As part of its bid to reduce dependence on department stores, J Front Retailing has tasked subsidiary Parco with developing new SCs, both Parco buildings and new types of retail real estate, as well as take on management of more SCs owned by third parties.

Takashimaya opens duty-free store in Shinjuku
City centre duty-free stores have had a miserable start in Japan, particularly Mitsukoshi Ginza, whose poor performance helped evict its former group president. Takashimaya hopes its own version will prove more popular given its focus on cosmetics and by including mass market concessions such as Matsumotokiyoshi and Laox.

Okaidi-Obaibi launches in Japan
There has long been a gap in the Japanese market for well-designed, reasonably priced childrenswear chains. While many adult apparel retailers also have successful childrenswear lines, SC developers have been crying out for more distinct brands, and French retailer Okaidi-Obaibi has just answered their prayers, opening its first store in Japan last month.

Aeon and Seven & I cut prices (a bit)
Price cutting remains a taboo subject for major retailers in Japan, but pressure on consumer spending has led to some token reductions in the past month.

Amazon launches Fresh in Japan, ties with major retailers
Amazon Fresh has launched in Japan, creating a new challenge for food retailers in major urban areas. At the same time, with Yamato bumping up its courier fees, Amazon has also begun to expand its own direct delivery capabilities, with some believing it will stop using Yamato for rapid delivery altogether. As a first step it has tied with Matsumotokiyoshi, Cocokara Fine and Isetan
Mitsukoshi to help improve its own delivery services.

Ginza Six makes its debut
Ginza Six is the biggest, flashiest retail project to appear in Japan for years. The building is big, houses a large array of top end brands and new concept stores, and is targeted quite heavily at the tourist shopper. It is certainly unique and fresh, and J Front Retailing and its partners are very optimistic that it will be a huge success.

Shoe stores face constrained market
Footwear retailers had a tough year in the face of waning consumer confidence, a flat tourist market, and some ongoing price deflation combined with the continuing shift from more expensive formal shoes for work to smart casual shoes at lower price points.

E-commerce breaks ¥15 trillion 
E-commerce continues to boom in Japan thanks to the high penetration and ease of use of smartphones, but also due to the growing numbers of traditional retailers suddenly eager to sell online. With couriers and their partners hoping to rapidly solve the problems of last mile supply, online sales are the future of retailing, even if shipping costs rise. METI’s latest annual survey shows that 2016 was another year of rapid growth with penetration rates in some categories exceeding 30% of retail sales.

Ryohin Keikaku still on a roll
A number of analysts have questioned Ryohin Keikaku’s capacity for growth in Japan given its seeming saturation, but it has posted record sales in the past few years, and another stellar year in 2016. With new ideas, a boost from the home fashion boom, and more strategic expansion abroad, the former Seiyu brand looks like having a few good years left in it.

Seven Eleven ties with Seino, expands subformats
Seven Eleven sticks closely to a tried and tested, uniform store and merchandise model with only a few exceptions, but with saturation in the sector growing, it has recently announced a series of new ideas. It is also keen to ensure its fledgling e-commerce integration survives the current ructions in the courier sector.

Matsuya sees sales fall 7.1% but outlook remains bright
Matsuya may only have the one (and a quarter) store, but it punches well above its weight, outperforming the sector in the last few years. The surge in sales in 2015 in particular meant that 2016 was always going to be tough, but Matsuya is optimistic it can recover momentum this year.

LaFabric and the custom suit boom
The custom suit market is booming at the moment with chains such as Konaka’s Difference and Aoyama’s Universal Language Measure expanding rapidly. These chains are using online technologies and apps to simplify the process of custom ordering, but the originator of this approach is a small start up called Lifestyle Design, the company behind the LaFabric online store. Lifestyle Design has just received a further ¥400 million in funding to expand.

Retail Data: Department store sales fall, but not in big cities Tougher trading in early 2017

Tourist spending rises 4% in 1Q2017
Start Today surges 40%
Pocket money allowances at lowest since 2007
Renown planning low cost fashion brand in 2018
TSI plans ¥40 billion boost to sales in 5 years
Yahoo consumer sales jump 1.5 times
More changes at the top of Isetan-Mitsukoshi
Life opens in new SC in Tokyo
First Ito-Yokado SC in Tokai for Seven & I
Seven & I Nanaco card membership to hit 67 million
Familymart adds hybrid stores with Coop Miyagi
Askul deficit set to grow following fire
Lawson CEO steps aside
H&M to open 7 stores in Aeon malls this Spring
Gap to close Shibuya store
Self-Service checkouts at Convenience stores
Debit card use doubles in 2 years
Lumine to close Shibuya branch
ANAP sets up new online fashion wholesale service
Same store sales fall 1.3% at GMS, flat at supermarkets
100 Uniqlo stores in Europe

Companies & Brands in this issue (number indicates page):
ABC Mart, 7
ACE Shoes, 7
Actus, 16
Adastria, 16
Aeon, 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 15
Amazon, 1, 5, 8, 10
ANA Trading, 3
ANAP, 11
Apple, 9
Asbee, 7
Askul, 5, 7
Asplund, 16
Awesome Store, 16
Bals, 15-16
Baycrews, 16
Bo Concept, 12, 16
Bubble Mag, 4
Cath Kidston, 12
Cedar Crest, 7
Celine, 6
Charlotte, 7
Cocokara Fine, 5
Cross Garden, 6
Daimaru-Matsuzakaya, 1
Daiso, 6
Daphne International, 7
DeNA, 8
Dominique Ansel Bakery, 5
Emporio, 12
Expocity, 16
Factelier, 11
Familymart, 7, 9-10
Fast Retailing, 8-9
Fendi, 6
Flying Tiger, 12
Franfranc, 15
G-Foot, 7
Gap, 4, 7, 9
GENie, 10
Ginza Six, 1, 6, 11
Good Sleep Factory, 13
Hands Be, 15
ID Japan, 4
Idée, 15
Iias Tsukuba, 12
IKEA Japan, 12, 14
Isetan Mitsukoshi, 5
Ito-Yokado, 6, 11, 15
Itochu, 10
J Front Retailing, 1, 3, 6
Japan Post, 10
JR East, 7, 10
Kagawa, 9
Katitas, 14
Kokuyo, 16
Konaka, 11
Lakole, 16
Lalaport, 12, 14, 16
Laox, 3
Lawson, 6, 8, 10
Le Creuset, 12, 16
Life Corp, 6
Lightarium, 13
Loft, 13, 15
Lohaco, 5, 7
Lotte, 3
Lumine, 10-11
Marimekko, 12
Matsumotokiyoshi, 3, 5
Matsuzakaya, 1, 3, 6
Meiji Yasuda Life, 4
Mitsukoshi, 3, 5-6, 11
Mori, 6
Mr Max, 4
Muji, 9, 15-16
Nanaco, 6-7
Nano Universe, 5
Neuve A, 3
Nitori Express, 12, 14
Nojima, 6
Okaidi-Obaibi, 1, 4
Old Navy, 4
Orix, 6
Otsuka Kagu, 13
Oxo, 12
Oxyybul, 4
Parco, 1, 3, 9
Pasmo, 7
Pearly Gates, 5
Poggen Pohl, 16
Renown, 4-5
Russell Hobbs, 12
Saint Laurent, 6
Sazaby League, 12, 16
Seijo Ishii, 8
Seino Holdings, 10
Seiyu, 4, 9
Senshukai, 1
Shandong Jining Ruyi, 4
Shilla Hotels, 3
Shimachu, 13
Skechers, 7
Slow House, 16
Starbucks, 6
Start Today, 3-4
Stussy, 5
Suica, 7
Sundrug, 6
T-Site, 13
Tablet, 8
Takashimaya, 1, 3, 14
The Conran Shop, 16
Three F, 8
Timeless Comfort, 16
Tokyu Hands, 13, 15
Tokyu Plaza, 11
Topvalu, 4
TSI Holdings, 5
Tsutaya, 6
Uniqlo, 4
United Arrows, 16
Urban Research, 16
Valentino, 6
Van Cleef & Arpels, 6
Walmart, 4
Waterford Wedgwood, 12
Yahoo Japan, 5-6
Yamato Transport, 8
Zara, 4, 12, 16
Zerogate, 3
Zozotown, 3, 7