November Top Stories

Nov 06

Rakuten moves into luxury market
Rakuten is determined to become a leader in online fashion retailing, hoping some of the sector’s glamour will burnish its own brand name too. After relaunching its fashion store as Rakuten Fashion last year, it has now opened a new luxury section, including brands from LVMH, reflecting how online malls are increasingly agnostic in their positioning, catering to brands and customers at all levels.

Editorial: Fatter wallets when the crisis ends

Shimachu Saga: DCM loses to Nitori
Just last month, Shimachu’s board accepted a tender bid from fellow home centre chain, DCM. Many thought DCM’s offer of ¥4,200 a share too low, especially given Shimachu’s strong balance sheet and real estate holdings. After several weeks of rumour and speculation, Nitori has challenged DCM with a bid 25% higher still. Dowdy Shimachu is suddenly the centre of an unusual bidding war.

Uniqlo: the Toyota of clothing
Like other retailers, Fast Retailing faces challenges over the coming six months but its discipline and forward planning bode well for improving returns. It is overseas markets where its real opportunity and challenges lie but Uniqlo looks like having more traction globally than ever before, fast becoming a true global retailer. While disciplined supply chain management and product development help, there is one ingredient above all that looks set to help it compete at the top of the rankings: at last it has a coherent, meaningful – and increasingly global – brand.

Workman for women
Workman is an out and out success with consumers but its image remains quite masculine and its first pioneering female shoppers called for more womenswear. Always keen to listen, Workman quickly responded with a new banner that is entirely aimed at women, even if 40% of merchandise is for men.

Seven & I: still floundering
Seven & I had a dismal first half at almost all of its chains. On the plus side, e-commerce sales improved but, even here, results could have been better when compared to what some rivals have achieved online. At least Nissen, the acquired catalogue company, finally returned to profit.

Zozo transitions, Zozosuit returns
Zozo’s new business model as a brand producer was off to a strong start last month with most of the new 18 private brands selling out. The online platform also re-launched the Zozosuit, suggesting a revival of the Zozo brand may be on the cards. Zozo needs these new initiatives if it is to transition to becoming a still distinctive but much more volume-based mall.

Muji leaks red after tough summer
Muji’s US bankruptcy and poor trading in Europe, along with weaker sales at home, led to Ryohin Keikaku’s first revenue decline in a decade and the first loss in 19 years. Growth in Asia and the promise of significant growth in the food category suggest hope for a rebound next year.

‘PPIC’, the new food club for Donki
Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture wants to expand food exports from ¥1 trillion to more than ¥5 trillion over the next 10 years, and Pan-Pacific International is keen to help. As part of its mission, PPI hopes to change the general perception of Japanese food products as expensive treats by selling them to Asia’s mass market. With a parallel target of 500 stores overseas by 2030, PPI could also provide enough retail demand to account for a major chunk of the total food exports out of Japan.

Sanyo Shokai to close 160 stores
The big five apparel firms will have closed 3,100 stores by the end of this year so Sanyo’s announcement that it will close ‘just’ 160 looks relatively positive. Unfortunately, the ex-Burberry licensee continues to leak red ink with little sign of respite. More stores and brands will have to close.

Otsuka Kagu to be absorbed by Yamada Denki as family CEO departs
It is almost a year since Yamada Denki stepped in to save Otsuka Kagu from a choice of bankruptcy or acquisition by a major furniture rival. Yamada has made some improvement, but things have not gone nearly as well as hoped. As a result, Kumiko Otsuka will step down as CEO in December, ending the founding family’s direct involvement with the chain, and Yamada will probably delist the company and make it a wholly owned subsidiary. Then the real work begins as Otsuka will need an entirely new competitive position if it is to survive.

FOCUS: Fashion Retailing 2019-20: Ouch
Last year the fashion market contracted below ¥16 trillion for the first time in more than a decade and this year is proving much, much worse. But there is some good news. Above all, Japanese are not travelling either at home or abroad and they are also eating out less. Suddenly wallets are full, which could mean more money to spend on treats – good news for luxury but also any brand or retailing offering something fun to divert from the all bleak news. While the short-term outlook remains dark, the medium-term should see both a return to a more stable trading environment and something of a splurge too as people express their relief that it’s all over.

Retail Data: Another hammering in September

IN BRIEF
Calvin Klein ends Onward apparel license 
Itochu takes over Slowear Japan
Takashimaya closes duty-free store
Veolia ties with Mitsui, Seven & I to launch recycling in Japan
New DtoC brand sells ¥40m in 1st day, DtoC market to boom
Coxco launches sustainable fashion from offcuts
Belluna acquires e-commerce firm, Maxim
Parco opens first Bino SC
Takihyo launches online store
Sanki Shoji to become lifestyle distributor
SC sales down 21.6% in September
Nestle introduces new, smaller Kitkats
Tansu no Gen launches on Shopify
Locondo opens in Chiyoda stores
Sazaby ends Sazaby brand
Infinity signs Dedicated from Sweden
Aircloset offers online personal shopping service
Narumiya takes 33% of sales online
Aeon opens new supermarket chain while merging others
Familymart to sell Noin cosmetics brands
iStyle looking to boost e-commerce in China
Cookpad Mart fridges at Familymart stores
Paidy launches 3-Pay instalment service
Qoo10 selling Oisix ranges for New Year
Shimamura closes all 6 stores in China
Drobe’s AI-styling a hit

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