December Top Stories

Jan 15

KKR & Rakuten ignite online food battle with Seiyu purchase

Walmart’s 18-year attempt to build a business in Japan ended last month when the US retailer announced it would sell 85% of its stake in Seiyu to KKR and Rakuten. Seiyu has been transformed under Walmart’s leadership although it is much smaller than when Walmart arrived. Now, with KKR and Rakuten taking over, the hope is Seiyu could re-emerge as a leader in food e-commerce.

Editorial: Crises breeds innovation

Megane Super: shops on wheels are the future

Major eyewear retailer Megane Super, has announced it is switching from physical stores to mobile shops mounted on trucks. Supermarkets and others are also trying this idea with growing success but this is the first case of an eyewear company and, we think, the first where the retailer says it no longer expects to open physical stores. Initial results suggest the trucks work very well, with far lower set-up and operating costs, but with sales equivalent to some of the chain’s best immobile shops.

Milleporte: a new place for luxury moments

Japan may be one of the top three luxury markets in the world but luxury e-commerce is poorly evolved, with much of the focus still on flagships, boutiques and department stores. While Rakuten at last opened its own luxury section last month, a new dedicated luxury platform has just launched with the promise to offer both merchants and customers a true luxury experience.

Cecil McBee: the end for former fashion icon

Fashion brands and retailers are falling like skittles at the moment and last month, one of the most iconic brands of the Shibuya Gal era shut its doors, emphasising once again the fickle nature of the fashion business.

Aoyama: 400 redundancies but aims for relevance through digital 

Retailers selling business clothing are in a crisis. Teleworking has meant little incentive to update work wardrobes and given that March is usually the top month for suit sales, the Covid crisis could not have come at a worst time. Sector leader, Aoyama Shoji, is slashing staff while hoping a shift to digital will help, but it is also converting stores to co-working spaces for people working from home – although they are unlikely to come wearing a suit.

Food discounting on the rise

In addition to more people buying food online, there has been significant growth in food discounting over the past year. Don Quijote’s efforts have led the way, boosting the sector overall by winning over more and more consumers. Development of wide ranges of generic brands that it can also put into its Asian stores is also taking the chain into a different direction. Existing discounters, notably OK Super and Lopia, are also making headway in Tokyo.

United Arrows to slash workforce

United Arrows is bullish about its medium-term prospects, with plans to enter the mass market and expand overseas, but in the meantime will start cutting stores and staff.

World resets as losses mount for apparel firms

Japan’s big apparel firms have suffered even more than the apparel sector overall and as reported before will have closed over 3,000 stores by the end of this year. World, which leads the sector, plans to go even further than previously expected, with a major overhaul of its business while others are seeking new solutions, such as showrooming stores, to stem losses from piling inventory.

Yaoko: a difficult 2021 coming for supermarkets

Yaoko will again post record revenues and profit for FY2020 to March next year, but the top supermarket is worried that FY2021 will see a reversal of its fortunes. A boom in fresh food retailing is one of the few positives to emerge out of the Covid crisis, but with no end in sight, shoppers are beginning to stay away. It is one of the few supermarkets with the financial strength to weather an extended downturn, but even Yaoko is preparing for harder times.

CVS chains soften up franchisees

2020 was probably the worst year in the CVS sector’s history. Not only is footfall down due to the Covid crisis, but the sector faces both saturation and the prospect of lower growth. Franchisees are disgruntled at long operating hours and tight controls over their incomes by the big operating companies, and the government is backing the store owners. Store numbers are set to fall, but the big firms are worried that the drop could be much faster than forecast and they could lose key locations.

Goldwin bullish for future growth

Sportswear businesses have had a somewhat easier time of it than mainstream apparel firms in the last six months but it has still been tough. Goldwin continues to make money and hopes growing appreciation for the outdoors will lead to a quick revival – as well as growth for its own brand.

FOCUS:

Shopping Centres 2019-2020 review: development stalls as customers stay away

2019 was the first year since 2002 that the number of SCs fell. Unfortunately, the small 0.4% increase in sales last year was the last positive growth for a while; cumulative sales to date in 2020 suggest average sales down more than 30% in the months to October although the good news is that October at last showed a return to more normal trading, down just 2.4%. Nevertheless, the crisis has only exacerbated underlying pressures from depopulation, labour costs, shifting consumer interest to services, and e-commerce. The good news is that the better developers are working harder on novel ideas to pull in traffic, an opportunity for overseas brands and services.

Shopping centres down just 2.4% in October

IN BRIEF

IKEA Shinjuku due in the Spring

Costco to double online lines

Base opens in Harajuku

Nifty to acquire Cecile

Enoteca opens 2nd collaboration with Taillevent

Takashimaya Iyotetsu closes three satellites

Descente aims for 50 Japan stores this year

Mitsui optimistic for SC business, plans 86,000 sqm mall in Fukuoka

Seiyu plans four new stores

Renown brands sold on the cheap

Itochu ties with Japan Weather for new apparel service

Bluebell Japan ties with Roger & Gallet

Cruciani, Edward Green distributor goes under

Consumption down for 12 months straight

Yamato ties with Doddle in new Click & Collect system

Daidoh absorbs Brooks Brothers Japan

Messika opens in Japan

Shopping up 68% for Z HD

Gap opens on Rakuten Fashion

Itochu signs Gung Ho and Stan Ray

PM Suga wants more deregulation

IKEA: part-exchange and selling secondhand

Cox’s ¥1M mask

Albis to open in Aichi

Muji introduces plant-based meat

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