December 2019 Top Stories

Dec 04

Aeon ties with UK’s Ocado in push for online food leadership
Aeon has become the Japanese partner to Ocado, one of the best online supermarket and systems providers for food and FMCG retailing in the world. Ocado works with only one company per country, so Aeon has stolen a lead on its rivals by gaining access to Ocado’s deep experience and world-class technology. Now all it has to do is force its hundreds of subsidiary CEOs and suppliers into line and invest heavily in the necessary systems.

Editorial: A new era of malls

Z & LINE: Softbank strikes again in battle for digital hegemony
Softbank and LINE’s parent, Naver, have confirmed integration of LINE with Z Holdings at the end of the year. The deal follows Z Holding’s acquisition of a 50.1% stake in Zozo last month and will further fuel the battle with Rakuten for hegemony in digital consumption across payments, loyalty points and e-commerce. The only question is whether Softbank can make the integration work.

World signs 30-shop Laura Ashley license
World delisted several years ago in order to clean house away from the public eye and then listed again last year hoping that it had done enough slimming down and could expand again. It has since invested in new potential growth businesses and last month signed a license deal with Itochu for Laura Ashley. World doesn’t have a great record on international collaborations, however, and still hasn’t finished cleaning out its own stable.

Seven & I closes IY Fresh on Lohaco
Seven & I and Lohaco closed the IY Fresh online store on the Lohaco shopping portal last month. IY Fresh was the only fresh food supplier on Lohaco, but after launching in 2017, it never expanded beyond just two Tokyo wards. Now Lohaco will need to add new fresh food partners and ranges of its own while Ito-Yokado will go back to the drawing board, even though it is rapidly being overtaken by the many new competitors in online food.

Workman same-store sales up 28%
Workman is truly on a roll. Sales have risen consistently over the past year since the launch of Workman Plus, but even its core stores are busy with new customers thanks to its popular new private brands being sold in all stores and its fast adaptation to the world of social media.

Kobe Bussan plans diversification beyond supermarkets
Kobe Bussan owns and manages Gyomu Super, progenitor of the successful – and only – new supermarket chain of the past 20 years. But Kobe Bussan makes most of its money from food wholesaling and sees only so much scope for discount supermarkets moving forward, so the Hyogo-based company is looking to diversify into restaurants to further expand its food supply business.

Jun ties with La Bouche Rouge, expands into sports
Apparel firm Jun has acquired the rights to French cosmetics brand, La Bouche Rouge, as part of longer-term plans to diversify into other lifestyle categories. In the same month, Jun began expanding its nascent sports chain Nergy, which is tied to Nike, with plans to have 30 stores open within three years.

American Eagle Outfitters exits Japan
Aoyama Shoji had previously confirmed its intention to cancel the franchise for American Eagle Outfitters early but had assumed the US firm would buy the 33-store operation itself. Unfortunately the loss-making chain doesn’t have optimal locations and nor is the chain currently profitable. As a result, all stores and online will close this month. quit and nor is the “Amecaji” casual apparel market buoyant enough to justify the investment.

Even with Reiwa babies, birthrates decline even faster
The start of the new Reiwa era in May caused a brief surge in marriage registrations but with the number of women of child-bearing age now falling well past its peak, the birthrate continues to plummet. More and more local authorities around the country are registering zero new children every year and the government is so worried about its tax base that it will double medical fee contributions for older seniors from 2022.

Parco attracts 2,500 to opening
The former Parco Shibuya was reopened as the ‘Parco for Everyone’ late in November. The new Nintendo and Pokemon areas were an immediate hit and the company is keen to point out some of the modern, digital aspects of the store. Currently, people are flocking to the rebuilt shopping building as the latest and most interesting experience in town, but whether the new digital tweaks and toy stores will be enough to continue to drag people up the hill from a resurgent station area longer-term remains to be seen.

Izumi and Maruyoshi Center become affiliates
Izumi has taken a 20% share in Maruyoshi Center, the last major independent supermarket chain in Shikoku. Coupled with Izumi’s new partnership with Seven & I, the move opens up the battle lines between Izumi and Aeon as the only two major FMCG retailers in southern Japan.

ABC Mart: moving beyond Korea
Korea has been ABC Mart’s big growth market in recent years, helping take the company beyond its established dominance in Japan. With political arguments and Korean consumer animosity proving problematic, the footwear retailer is likely to splash its surplus of cash on faster expansion in the USA, buying both retail volume and adding new brands to its portfolio.

FOCUS: Shopping Centres 2018-19: sales rise again but even fewer new malls
Shopping centre sales rose again in 2018 thanks to decent local support, investment in upgrading and expanding malls, inbound tourism growth and the growing enthusiasm to use dining and leisure options at station-based malls across the country. Tourism boosted outlet malls once again and helped Narita Airport’s SC to widen its lead as the biggest mall by far, but it was the big station-based SCs that performed the best on average. Despite this relative buoyancy, the number of new malls in 2018 collapsed to the lowest level in 20 years and 2019 looks like being even lower. Shortages of labour and materials in the pre-Olympic infrastructure boom haven’t helped but nor has greater competition and falling interest in all but the best retailers’ new stores.

Retail Data: Department stores: a 17.5% hangover

IN BRIEF
Marui to close Kyoto and Kawagoe stores
Tokyo Base jumps 20% in 1H19
Z e-commerce up 10.9%, Zozo 11.7%
Isetan Shinjuku upgrades cosmetics, expands online
Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi: Bic Camera opening in 2020
iStyle launches global @cosme app
JINS opens latest AI-enabled store in Parco Shibuya
Seiko and Toray sell luxury eyewear
Isetan-Mitsukoshi ends Anna Sui license
H&M opens 100th store, aims for 150
80% of seniors shopping online
Timex cancels Japan distribution
Matsuya signs license for Moomin
Yamato Transport: hoping for less business
Daimaru Umeda offers stress relief for women
Trial to hugely expand in-store AI systems
Paidy offers credit service on Amazon
KDDI and Facebook tie on 5G projects for retailers
Nitori’s new app integrates stores and online
Matsukiyo to open in Vietnam, adds new concept store in Ikebukuro
Korean spat reduces inbound visitors
Ain buys Dazzshop cosmetics brand and chain
Part-time wages continue to rise

Brands and Companies in this Issue

ABC Mart

Adastria

Aeon

Ain Pharmaciez

Albion

Alibaba

Amazon

American Eagle Outfitters

Anna Sui

Aoyama Shoji

Askul

Atre

Ayura

Balenciaga

Baycrews

Bic Camera

Bottega Veneta

Bvlgari

Calaja

Camera de Search

Cartier

CCC

Chanel

Chronos

Comfort Market

Coop Sapporo

Daimaru

Daytona International

Dazzshop

Decencia

Descente

Dior

DKSH Japan

Dolce & Gabbana

Elite Spectrum

En Japan

Facebook

Free People

Fuji

Grandelies

Gucci

Gyomu Super

Hankyu Umeda

Hanshin Umeda

Hawkins

Hermo Creative

Homeru Bar

Iroha

Isetan Shinjuku

Isetan-Mitsukoshi

ISMY

Ito-Yokado

Itochu Shoji

IY Fresh

Izumi

J Front Retailing

JINS

JR East

JR West Lucua

Jun

Kakogawa

Karuizawa Prince Plaza

KDDI

Kobe Bussan

Konaka

Kuipo

La Bouche Rouge

LaCrosse Footwear

Lalaport

Laura Ashley

Laurent Ferrier

Lawson

LINE

Lohaco

Lotus Food Group

Lucua

Lumine

Mac House

Make Up Alley

Mark IS

Marui

Marunaka

Maruyoshi Center

Mash Holdings

Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings

Matsuya

Meeco

Merpay

Mitsubishi Estate

Mitsui Outlet Park

Mitsukoshi

Modi

Money Forward

Montblanc

Moomin

Morrisons

MUI Group

Muji

Musee Shop

Narita Airport

Naver

Nergy

Nike

Nintendo

Nippon Steel Trading

Nitori

NTT Docomo

Odakyu Shinjuku

Oisix Ra Daichi

OK Super

One Aeon

Onward

Paidy

Parco

PayPal

PayPay

PayPay Mall

Perie Chiba

Pokemon Centre

Rakuten

Saint Laurent

Salvatore Ferragamo

Scramble Square

Seibu Saison Group

Seiko Holdings

Seven Eleven

Shibuya Scramble Square

Shiro

Shiseido

Softbank

Studious

Stylevoice

Sumikin Bussan

Sumitomo Fudosan

Super Daiei

Takashimaya

Terrace Mall

The Outlets Hiroshima

Timex

Tobu Funabashi

Tokyo Base

Toray International

Trial Holdings

Uniqlo

United Arrows

Uny

Urban Outfitters

Vendome Yamada

Workman

World

Yahoo

Yamato Transport

Yaoko

Z Holdings

Zara

Zozo

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