FOCUS: Department Stores 2018-19: taking risks to become original is an opportunity for overseas brands
The department store sector witnessed a small drop in sales last year but, considering the large number of closures and conversions, this was a solid result and reflective of the ongoing support for the format from wealthy Japanese and inbound tourists. However, only cosmetics and accessories floors are doing really well and the important apparel category continue to decline sharply. Food floors also suffered a set back last year. But the overall data belies a much more optimistic picture from the leading stores and chains. After 20 years of dithering, management has come to a consensus that taking control of sales floors – and becoming real retailers again – is good for growth and the bottom line, and this offers a major opportunity for overseas brands.
Rakuten goes after fashion market as sales surge again
Rakuten’s CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, took his eye off the original online mall business in the last five years as he focused on trying to build a global business – and then retreating – as well as moving into promising new growth markets at home like mobile networks and finance. Since January he has given a lot more love to Rakuten Ichiba and is investing heavily. Rakuten has also just signed as sponsor of Tokyo Fashion Week in a bid to wrest more share of the key online fashion market.
Editorial: No time off this summer
Itochu moves into cosmetics with Cath Kidston deal
Itochu’s textile arm is one of the most powerful players in the Japanese fashion and apparel industries, both as a supplier of apparel and accessories to retailers and as an importer, distributor and licensee of a plethora of international brands. Until now, Itochu had limited exposure to the cosmetics market, but with significant growth in imported brand sales in the last few years, it will now enter the market in earnest.
Donki planning big push into the US market led by current CEO
PPI’s CEO Koji Ohara will step down from running domestic operations this month to take up the reins at the company’s North American HQ in California. The move signals a major push into the USA, with Ohara suggesting that PPI could well buy its way into the market.
Sanki Shoji aims for ¥10 billion in fashion sales, moves into food
Sanki Shoji has been importing Italian fashion brands for 60 years. Recent sales had stalled until last year when new signings such as Missoni helped turnover rise again. The company has also acquired a food importer in recognition of the growing trend towards the fusion of fashion, food and home at retail.
Sogo Seibu loses Kansai branches, converting more stores to SCs
Seven & I sent in a team of senior executives to sort out Sogo Seibu three years ago resulting in recommendations that included handing off the Kansai stores and converting others to shopping centres. The resulting restructuring is in progress, with the formal renaming of Sogo Kobe and Seibu Takatsuki as Hankyu stores next month and conversion of Seibu Tokorozawa to an SC. More stores will be converted soon.
430,000 firms to offer government’s cashless rewards stores
With the consumption tax hike from 8% to 10% coming in at the beginning of next month, retailers are rushing to sign up for the government’s consumer rebate scheme. As well as dampening the pain of a 2-point tax hike, for the government this is all about promoting a cashless society but for retailers, the government backed rebates represent a huge marketing opportunity.
Everyone Wants to Buy Lohaco
Yahoo Japan and Askul Corp began an unusual (for Japan) public display of disaffection in late July. The cause is Yahoo’s determination to buy Lohaco, a division of Askul that Yahoo helped create, and Askul’s unwillingness to let it go – Yahoo Japan currently owns 45% of Askul. Meanwhile, plenty of other companies would like to buy Lohaco to boost their own e-commerce businesses.
Seven & I opens truly new concept
Seven & I has opened a new concept store. Unusually for a company that prefers to make incremental adjustments rather than major changes, the ‘Comfort Market’ store is genuinely something new. It not only reflects innovations in food retailing led by Muji, Yaoko, Oisix and others but also Seven & I’s need to modernise if it is to keep up.
New premium mall due in November
Online options for buying luxury and premium brands are still limited but the number of new services backed by major companies is increasing. Next month, leading lifestyle retailer Mash Holdings and partners will launch Stylevoice.com, claiming to offer a new approach to online malls by focusing on the merchant.
Cocokara to merge with Matsukiyo
After several months of cross-company negotiations around tie-ups, late in August Cocokara Fine and Matsumotokiyoshi confirmed they were finally entering discussions to merge operations. The drugstore sector is already one of the most active in terms of M&A, but this deal will be the largest so far and will cause a major disruption for competitors and food, cosmetics and toiletries distribution.
7-Pay suffers stillbirth due to management incompetence
Seven & I’s image as Japan’s most trusted retailer was severely tarnished this summer. In July, the launch of its mobile payments system, 7-Pay, was an unmitigated disaster, with customers losing money largely, it seems, due to poor implementation and rumours of a major security leak. With the Omni7 shopping portal having made little progress in four years, the question is whether Seven & I can make the jump into digital retail services at all.
Convenience stores looking to solve the 24-7 operation problem
The problem of 24-7 operating contracts in all of the largest convenience stores is still to be solved as is the labour shortage problem. Last month, Familymart began a trial of reduced hours across 300 stores, while Lawson is running an experiment making one store staff-less during the wee small hours.
Retail Data: Rain stops play and shopping in the summer
New styling app from Fast Retailing
Redyazel: ¥17 million a day for 50 sqm fashion store
Home fashion market flat
Megane no Tanaka opens pop-up store for Ninal
Luxury re-use app Reclo raises ¥3.6 billion
Levi Strauss offers ¥100,000 denims at new flagship
Baycrews moves into eyewear, home, and eggs
Takashimaya to upgrade Osaka store
Tokyu Toyoko to close in March
Muji to open largest food store in November
Urban Research launches online store for Freitag
Isetan-Mitsukoshi and Yahoo collaborate
More than 30 million women in employment
Daimaru Shinsaibashi to sell 368 brands
Adidas launches online outlet store on Qoo10
Ted Baker to tie with Sojitz
Daiso expanding its ‘Threeppy’ one price format
Adastria goes after over 40s market with new chain
Sazaby League signs I’m OK for Japan
2nd Street opens in New York, 10 stores by March
Itochu/Coronet unveils new select shop chain
Convenience stores suffer poor summer
600: a new staff-less convenience concept
Aeon adds two new Bio c’ Bon stores
L’Occitane in Harajuku
Brands and Retailers in this Issue
Dean & Deluca
Freeman’s Sporting Goods
J Front Retailing
JR Tokai Takashimaya
Megane no Tanaka
Nippon Steel Kowa
Nomura Real Estate
Oisix Ra Daichi
Rakuten Brand Avenue
Tokyu Department Store