September 6 2021

Muji: a ¥3 trillion brand by 2030?

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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September 2021 Issue

Muji: a ¥3 trillion brand by 2030?
Ryohin Keikaku fired a broadside at Uniqlo last month when it confirmed not only that its new president would be a former lieutenant to Tadashi Yanai, but that it plans to reduce prices to compete with Uniqlo in apparel and Nitori in home.  While Muji is today a quarter of the size of Fast Retailing, it has big plans to become a ¥3 trillion behemoth in just 10 years with more stores in Japan than even discount apparel chain, Shimamura.

Editorial: Retailing’s Prize for Optimism

Metro Cash and Carry to exit Japan
Metro Cash and Carry Japan will close its Japan operations at the end of October. It follows Carrefour, Tesco and Walmart as the latest major international player to try and fail in the Japanese market and leaves Costco as the only international chain retailer – but a clearly successful one at least.

Foot Locker buys Atmos
Foot Locker sees a major opportunity to expand in Asia but wants local expertise. It has acquired Atmos, the small, premium sneaker chain as much for its founder as for the chain itself.

Kobe Bussan aiming for new performance record
There are few discount supermarkets in Japan and the largest by far is Kobe Bussan’s Gyomu Super franchise chain. Despite its no frills presentation and reliance on frozen foods, over the past 12 months, prices that are up to half that charged at mainstream chains have drawn in more customers and across a wider age range. The company is now expecting yet another record performance this year.

E-commerce growth continues
There were some fears that e-commerce growth would stall following massive consumer adoption after March 2020 but for Rakuten at least, repeat customers have helped sustain momentum. Z Holdings had a trickier start to the year, however.

IKEA’s comeback
IKEA’s stores, like many non-essential retailers, will have had a tough year, but with three new, smaller format stores opening in Tokyo in the past 18 months, the Swedish furniture chain has shown that it still has a lot to offer.

Welcia: Aeon’s shining star
Welcia remains Japan’s largest drugstore group and continues to expand relentlessly. In addition to breaking 2,200 stores, last year it hired a large proportion of all the newly qualified pharmacists in Japan. The cost of this has caused some analysts to worry about short-term profitability, but if it can keep up the pace (and Aeon, its parent, will ensure it does), competitors may find it hard to keep up.

Tokyo Base defies fashion slowdown
Fashion retailer, Tokyo Base, stumbled well before the pandemic due to teething issues but  managed to hold sales at almost 2019 levels last year despite its premium positioning. It now expects almost 30% growth this year. Encouraged, it will double down on expansion, adding two more chains, including a sports fashion store, while investing faster overseas.

Online furniture sales surge 
The desire for home improvement was already building well before the pandemic but Japanese have turned to home decoration like never before since March 2020 as long days at home led to demand for more comfort and better aesthetics. With visits to physical stores currently something of a challenge, online sources have boomed, including new subscription rental services.

Aeon: new ideas to stay ahead
Japan’s  largest retail conglomerate is just emerging from years of group restructuring and, despite perennial complaints from investors that it should make more money, achieved record operating profits in FY2019 before the pandemic. Now, the group is looking at technology to create a whole new future.

Donki: slower growth, better stores
The pandemic led to slower growth at PPI last year, but the country’s largest discounter still increased thanks to ongoing improvements at stores acquired from Uny and expansion overseas.

Department Stores: radical contraction still to come if sector is to survive

FY2020 was clearly a year when department store executives would have been better to live in an induced coma. Big city stores suffered especially because inbound tourists, their main growth driver of the past few years, disappeared and local shoppers stayed away, although some stores did manage to harness support from Japan’s expanding wealth market to offset the rout a little bit. The good news is that executives pushing for change in the last five years in the face of perennial intransigence are increasingly taking charge and the result should be a leaner, smaller and more clearly defined format that is more overtly upscale.

H2O confirms Kansai Supermarket acquisition
Shops in a box: new vending idea from Store600
Baycrews to open multi-brand store
Yamato starts digital returns service with Doddle
Nishimatsuya Chain buys into Palemo
Snow Peak opens ninth overseas store
Belluna buys Pierrot
Mitsubishi to open new Premium Outlet in 2022
Odakyu OX to sell Seven Premium ranges
Apparel firms create DtoC brands
Mitsubishi Estate plans rebuild of Yurakucho Station buildings
Barney’s New York opens in Seibu Shibuya
B8ta opens third Japan store
Sogo Seibu to open Choose Base Shibuya
Seven & I sells FrancFranc stake
Lumine opens online store for The Meadow
Rakuten Pay targets SME vendors as PayPay introduces fees
80% of women have bought fashion online
Oni Go opens dark store in Meguro
E-commerce site building services to double in five years
Souvenir foods selling at local retailers
Home improvement market expected to grow strongly
LINE expands its LINE Gift service
Oisix launches Upcycle by Oisix
Honeys comeback

Brands and Companies in this Issue

Adastria, 1
Adidas, 5
Aeon, 1, 4–6, 9, 11–12
Amazon, 4, 7–8, 12
Apita Power, 13
Askul, 1, 7
Atmos, 1, 5

Baycrews, 4
Belluna, 6
Bic Camera, 19

Cainz, 12
Carrefour, 4
Chapter, 5
Cosmos Yakuhin, 5–6, 9
Costco, 4

Daimaru Matsuzakaya, 17
Daiwa Kanazawa, 16
Daytona International, 10
Decker, 5
Don Quijote, 1, 13

Electrolux, 11
Eltex, 5

Fabric Tokyo, 8
Familymart, 5
Fast Retailing, 1, 4, 7, 13
Foot Locker, 1, 5
FrancFranc, 8
Fukuya, 15, 17

Gal Fit, 5
Gap Japan, 4
Genky, 1
Goldwin, 6
GU, 13
Gyomu Super, 4–6

H2O, 1, 3, 15, 17, 19
Hankyu Hanshin, 17
Hankyu Oasis, 3, 15
Hoka One, 5
Honeys Holdings, 13
Hybes, 7

IKEA, 1, 8–9
Illusie300, 5
Incein, 8
Isetan, 1, 16–17
Itochu, 5
Iwataya, 16
Izumiya, 3, 15
Izutsuya Kokura, 16

Japan Post, 7
Joinus, 20
Jun, 20–21

Kansai Supermarket, 1, 3, 15
Keihan Osaka, 16
Keikyu, 17
Keio Shinjuku, 15, 18
Kewpie, 6
Kintetsu, 15
KKR, 4
Kobe Bussan, 1, 4–6
Kobe Lettuce, 6

Life Corp, 3
Lopia, 5
Lowya, 11
Lucua Osaka, 10, 20
Lumine, 9–10

Maruhiro, 15, 17
Matsuya, 1, 17–18
Maxim, 6
Meitetsu, 15
Mercari, 3
Metro, 4
Mitsubishi Estate, 6–7
Muji, 1–5

Nagasakiya, 13
Nanaco, 12
Nihon Chozai, 9
Nike, 5
Nishimatsuya Chain, 1, 5
Nitori, 1, 3, 8–9, 12–13
NTT, 8
Nubian, 4

Ocado, 12
Odakyu, 17
Oisix, 12–13
Onward Holdings, 7
Otsuka Kagu, 9

Palemo, 5
PayPay, 7–9
Pierrot, 6
PPI, 2, 13

Rakuma, 7
Rakuten, 4, 7, 9, 11–12, 19
Roomba, 11
Ryohin Keikaku, 1–3, 5
RyuRyu, 6

Saikaya Kanagawa, 17
Sanyo Shokai, 15
Seiyu, 4
Seven Eleven, 7, 12
Shimamura, 1, 3
Snow Peak, 5–6
Softbank, 9
Store600, 3
Studious, 10
Subsclife, 11
Sugi, 9

Takashimaya, 1, 15, 17
Tenmaya, 17
Teva, 5
Tokiwa, 15, 17
Tokyo Base, 1, 10–11
Tokyo Interior, 9
Topvalu, 6
TSI, 7
Tsuruha, 1
Tsuruya, 15, 17
Tsutaya, 13

Ugg, 5
Uniqlo, 1, 3
United Tokyo, 10

Valor, 3, 8
Vega Corporation, 11

Walmart, 4
WAON, 12
Welcia, 1, 9, 12

Yahoo, 7, 11
Yamato Transport, 4
Yaoko, 5
York Benimaru, 3

ZHD, 7–8
Zozo, 7–8, 19


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