September Top Stories

Sep 08

Workman thrives in crisis
It hasn’t been easy selling clothing in the last six months or even in the months before, unless, that is, you are Workman. The workwear to sports retailer delivered six straight months of sales growth peaking at 44% year-on-year thanks to its low price cost performance and relentless expansion of its private brands and investment in new franchisees. More growth is to come.

Editorial: Department Stores’ Day of Reckoning

B8ta comes to Japan
A retail chain from Palo Alto landed in Japan last month, offering consumers access to all the latest gizmos and gadgets and, for brands and manufacturers, an opportunity to access well-located stores for a fixed monthly fee, a form of mini consignment specialty store that has taken off in the US.

Itochu delists Familymart
Itochu initiated a buyout for an additional 10% of Familymart shares over the summer. The move is widely seen as Itochu taking full advantage of a depressed Familymart share price and as an opportunity for the trading house to begin more adventurous diversification of the convenience store business.

Seven & I’s ¥2 trillion US acquisition
Seven & I completed the acquisition of the Speedway chain of convenience stores last month. The deal cost ¥2.2 trillion and, as it includes gas stations at a time of booming demand for electric vehicles, has already been called by some analysts, ‘one of the worst deals of the past decade.’ 

World to close 350 more stores
Apparel groups are in trouble, as Renown’s bankruptcy (see Page 8) and Sanyo Shokai’s boardroom battles exemplify, but World always claimed it was in better shape. The Kobe-based firm has now admitted even its shopping mall chains need fixing, with a raft of closures due soon but, unlike competitors, it does have real growth businesses including its new Off Price chain, &Bridge.

Subscription lifestyles
Subscription-based services are flourishing but so is subscription-based consumption of merchandise such as fashion, food and cosmetics with brands ranging from Shiseido to Godiva now available on a subscription basis. Consumers love them for the discounts, convenience and chance to try new things, while businesses receive regular, stable revenues, more repeat business and can encourage customers to try products they haven’t tried before.

Lopia: Tokyo’s ‘Low Price Utopia’ triples sales since 2011
Lopia is a small supermarket chain, but with average sales growth of 18% a year since 2011, it is a rising star. Alongside OK Super, Lopia has proven that aggressive and consistent low prices work in Japan, and that careful cost control can provide profits even at low margins. It is a chain to watch, with a target of ¥1 trillion sales by the end of the next decade.

E-commerce breaks ¥10 trillion in 2019, set for major boost in 2020
The e-commerce channel continued to grow strongly in 2019 and the current health crisis is further fuelling the speed of growth beyond everyone’s expectations. METI’s annual survey shows that sales of goods alone rose to over ¥10 trillion and total EC transactions hit ¥19.3 trillion. Apparel and food remain the two largest categories online, but publishing saw the biggest growth in 2019 as suppliers finally accepted the inevitable consumer shift to electronic versions.

Genky: another discount winner
Although counted as a drugstore, Genky is one of Japan’s most food-focused, discount retailers. The chain ihas grown rapidly in recent years, with sales up 19% in FY2019 to June alone. It now plans to double that volume over the next three years.

New Aeon Style format opens in Ariake Garden SC
The latest Aeon Style was unveiled in June. Despite the format being around for about a decade, this is the first Aeon Style in central Tokyo and is being seen as a new model of supermarket designed for city centres.

FOCUS:
Department Stores in 2020: the biggest crisis since World War II

This week’s confirmation that Sogo Seibu is closing five more stores ends a terrible six months for department store chains. Things started to look bad for the sector well before the lockdown as falling tourist numbers from South Korea, the impact of the consumption tax hike, and cautious consumers at home stole the gains made in the previous year. That the sector is in trouble is well-known but the shake out will be both accelerated and intensified by the current crisis, meaning that even fewer stores will survive, leaving just 100 or so true department stores, 50% less than now. The good news is that the survivors will likely thrive.

IN BRIEF
Amazon adds 4 new DCs in 2020
Aeon marks site for first Ocado fulfilment centre
Takihyo signs luxury golf brand, G/Fore
Shimamura expects first profit increase in 4 years, launches new brand
Prada opens new concept in Shibuya
Sogo Seibu closing FIVE stores, opens cosmetics online store
Melrose online store up five-fold
Sales increase for foreign firms in Japan
iStyle posts loss
Anna Sui stays in Japan
QVC outperforms Jupiter in TV Shopping growth
Renown sells D’Urban and Aquascutum license
Mitsui Fudosan opens showrooming store
Stripe to close E Hyphen Gallery
Mitsubishi Estate launches new city SC brand
Locondo updates Fashionwalker
Adastria brings Korean select shop Aland to Japan
Baycrews launches online food store
GU launches cosmetics
Japan facing credit card number shortage
Plastic bag charge has immediate effect
EC malls set up lobby group
Buyma launches own ADDED fashion brand

Brands and Companies in this issue

Adastria

Aeon

Air Closet

Air Spice

Aland

Albion

Amazon Japan

ANA

Anatelier

Anna Sui

Apple

Aquagirl

Aquascutum

Arnold Palmer

Askul

B8ta

Base

Baycrews

Beisia Group

Benetton

Bic Camera

Big A

Birkenstock

&Bridge

Buyma

Cainz

Chambre

Chanel

Circle K Sunkus

Coffee Mafia

Coffee Style

Cosmos Pharmaceutical

Costco

Daiei

Daimaru

Daimaru-Matsuzakaya

Decathlon

Dyson

E Hyphen Gallery

Fabric Tokyo

Familymart

Genky

Godiva

GooPass

Gordon Brothers

Gourmet City

GU

Gucci

Gyomu Super

H2O Retailing

Hankyu-Hanshin

Hermes

HushHush

InRed

Instagram

Intermezzo

Isetan

Itochu Shoji

Itochu Shokuhin

Iwataya-Mitsukoshi

Izumi Cafe

Izutsuya

J Front Retailing

Joshin Denki

Journal Standard

JR Tokai Takashimaya

Jupiter Shop Channel

Kintetsu Harukas

Kobe Bussan

Komeri

Kosugi Sangyo

Kuipo

Kusuri no Aoki

Lalaport

Lancome

Laura Ashley

Lawson

Laxus

LeSportsac

LINE

Locondo

Loft

Lohaco

Look Mode

Loveless

Maibasuketto

Marathon Petroleum

Marui

Matsumotokiyoshi

Matsuya

Mechakari

Melrose

Mercari

Mezon

Mitsubishi Estate

Mitsui Bussan

Mitsukoshi

Muji

Myvoice

Nergy

Netflix

Nicoron

Nippon Access

Nishimatsuya Chain

Nitori

Ocado

Odakyu

Oggi International

Oisix Ra Daichi

OK Super

Onuma

Otsuka Kagu

Ozoc

Parco

PayPay

Prada

Qol

QVC

Rakuten

Ramen Nagi Tamachi

Regi Go

Sanyo Shokai

Seibu

Seven Eleven

Shandong Ruyi

Shimamura

Shiseido

Shu Uemura

Simple Life

Snaq Me

Soyora

Speedway

Stripe International

Sumitomo Real Estate

Takarajima

Takashimaya

Takihyo

Third Magazine

Tokyu Hands

Travellers Company

Uniqlo

United Arrows

Workman

Yahoo

Yodobashi Camera

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