October Top Stories

Oct 13

Style Factory: following Workman’s success into homeware
Cainz, the sector-leading home centre chain owned by Beisia Group, opened two new stores for its Style Factory concept over the summer, both around Tokyo. The new interiors and homeware stores look ideal for rapid rollout in SCs given the current surge in demand for home merchandise and will likely prove a challenger to Nitori and IKEA. Could Style Factory provide Beisia with the same level of success  as Workman?

Editorial: Making the best of it

Fashion firms launch off-price chains
The collapse in fashion sales from March onwards left many firms reeling. While trading picked up somewhat in June, sales quickly declined again from mid-July, leaving inventory the only growth statistic. The nascent off-price retail market has suddenly become a focus of attention, offering one of the only routes to sell off inventory without diluting brand equity.

More home centre consolidation: DCM to buy Shimachu
Leading home centre group DCM announced it will acquire Shimachu, the seventh largest chain, in November. The move will catapult DCM back to the top of the ranking, but could also provide a catalyst for further consolidation in a sector that’s long overdue for more after remaining static for much of the past 15 years.

Mitsubishi, backer of Uniqlo and Adastria, launches own chain
Mitsubishi Shoji Fashion is one of the biggest “OEM” fashion manufacturers in Japan and backer of many of Japan’s top retailers from their earliest days through years of unprecedented growth. The venerable supplier has now decided to become a retailer itself – with a difference.

Shopping centre trading worsens in August
Shopping centre sales plummeted more than 60% in April and May but then recovered sharply, down “just” 15% in June. Unfortunately, sales then faltered again in July and worsened in August, with little recovery expected in September.

Shoplist promise withers on the web
Another case of hubris in Japanese e-commerce? Shoplist operator, Crooz, made a big splash about its plans to build wa ¥100 billion fashion platform three years ago but made a thumping loss in 2018 and then sales actually fell last year, proving just how hard it is for smaller e-commerce platforms to shine in the shadow of the big three.

Senshukai hopes for rebirth with JR East
Direct marketing firms have had a terrible five years in the face of competition from e-commerce, high catalogue printing costs and legacy supply chains that make product out of date even before catalogues are posted in letter boxes. Senshukai was once the leader of the sector but is now barely half its former size and will now seek protection in the arms of JR East.

Not much lovin’ in lockdown
With bookings at maternity wards and clinics down by two-thirds for early 2021, paediatricians say they are fearful of being put out of business. Japan’s birthrate was already falling fast but the Covid crisis seems to be discouraging child birth even while couples are stuck at home. The government is so concerned that it might even hide the figures to stop people knowing just how bad things are. Either way, the implications for the consumer economy and retailers are profound.

Online food demand brings new ideas and innovations
With shoppers still reluctant to visit stores too often, more are turning to online food shopping. This trend was already building gradually before the pandemic, but demand has grown massively in the past nine months and large and small food retailers alike are rushing to add more online capacity. The winners will be the ones able to solve the last mile problem and add some customer-centric innovations.

Oisix thrives in crisis, ties with Otoya
Oisix has managed to grow rapidly during the pandemic and make a much improved profit at the same time. The business remains small compared to supermarkets, but has a unique position as the only pureplay retailer for fresh foods.

Baycrews direct EC sales above 75%
Baycrews sells premium fashions which should have meant a horrible six months but the select shop chain increased e-commerce sales by just under 30% and now sees more than 75% of online sales coming from its own store.

Adastria targets older women
One of the few population segments to grow in the next decade will be women in their 50s and 60s, yet there are few fashion retailers with nationwide coverage targeting them. Adastria launched a chain for women in their 50s last year and has just unveiled another for those in their 60s. It hopes the growth of these chains will offset tough trading for its core brands targeting the young.

FOCUS:
Convenience stores consolidate role as nation’s community retailers

Convenience stores (CVS) are Japan’s most successful retail sector and one that has now enjoyed almost 50 years of growth. It is also the most modern, concentrated and, from a distribution point of view, effective channel in Japan today. This leading position is likely to endure a little longer. Even with e-commerce growing faster and likely to over take CVS as the biggest channel by 2025, CVS will take on a prominent role in the fulfilment model used by many e-commerce companies. In the CVS sector itself, saturation and increased competition will force more change and differentiation, providing opportunities for new suppliers too.

Retail Data:Station/Fashion Buildings hammered in August

IN BRIEF
Taka-Q to shutter 90 stores
Zozo launches 18 new brands, adds golf section
Shinsaibashi Parco to follow Shibuya success with luxury brands
38% of smartphone users use mobile payments
Alpen converts private label into chain
Itochu seeks more share in outdoor market
Tefal opens its 20th specialty store in new Lalaport mall
Godiva and Lawson heading for 30 million items sold
Mitsui opens 2nd premium Rayard mall
Kasumi to use robot stock takers
TSI to close 122 stores, seeks 300 redundancies
Odakyu to rebuild West Shinjuku, close department store
Seiyu cuts prices on 765 basics
Phenix closes down
Charles & Keith opens 6th store
Rakuten and Tokyu collaborate on digital marketing
Lucua opens outdoor zone
Sazaby signs UK brand SZ Blockprints
Seria forecasts better 2020
Tokyu to open another Omotesando SC in 2022
Mitsui licenses Malibu Shirts
Japanese retail in Asia: good for PPI, bad for department stores
Shimamura online store opens
Rakuten to promote young designers at Fashion Week

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