July 8 2022

Selling Sogo Seibu: an uncertain future

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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July-August 2023 Issue

Sale of Sogo Seibu imminent
Initial reports suggest that Fortress Investment, part of the Softbank group of funds, is now the frontrunner in negotiations to acquire Sogo Seibu department stores from Seven & I, beating another major investment firm and Singapore’s state fund, GIC. Reports suggest Fortress is already in discussions with privately owned retailer Yodobashi Camera to take over management of the chain’s better stores, beginning with Seibu Ikebukuro.

Editorial: Consumers back as market consolidates

Collaborative distribution the future
More and more FMCG manufacturers are combining distribution facilities and operations, including firms whose brands compete at retail. A Tokyo think tank expects 60% of FMCG manufacturers will take part in collaborative distribution in the future.

Air Closet files for IPO
Subscription rental services have become increasingly mainstream and the earlier start ups are now maturing into larger businesses. One of the first, Air Closet, plans an IPO late this month. As well as being a great way for overseas fashion brands to reach new customers, Air Closet has also just launched a rental service for gadgets ranging from kitchen appliances to cameras.

OK Super: winning in inflation era
OK Super is today the biggest single chain of supermarkets in Tokyo with a strong customer following thanks to its low prices. With inflation rising, customers will continue to look for cheaper options which should support growth at OK. It still aims to be the cheapest store in any local area, backed by aggressive buying and low cost operations, and will expand store openings this year. Analysts are keen to see its popular formula exported to new regions, notably Kansai.

Yamato builds courier ecosystem
Yamato Transport is Japan’s largest courier service, but even the biggest player needs to race to keep up with booming demand for e-commerce. Over the past six years, it has gradually built an ecosystem of online tools and physical infrastructure to help vendors and customers, and it has not been afraid to import knowhow when needed.

50% of sales at Isetan-Mitsukoshi flagships from top 5% of customers
Wealthy VIP customers account for around half of sales at both Isetan Shinjuku and Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi department stores and the wealth market continues to grow. Isetan-Mitsukoshi has now combined its individual and corporate VIP (Gaisho) administration into one division and wants to expand further, with more services and an improved appeal to younger clients and wealthy foreigners.

Zozo: social fashion commerce, omnichannel and new ventures
Zozo recorded its highest profit ever last year, countering the sceptics once again. The company has shrugged off the uncertainties surrounding the departure of its founder and, while sticking to its core values, is looking for new growth beyond fashion e-commerce.

New and old discounters: Yaoko expands discount supermarket
Yaoko opened a discount supermarket last year and added a second in March, using knowhow acquired from the Ave chain it bought in 2017. The new store is purpose built to save costs and offer lower prices, and should prove popular as inflation rises, but the format stands in marked contrast to other discounters such as Gyomu Super.

Tokyo Base: a future abroad
Tokyo Base rebounded in 2021 thanks to strong support at home and overseas for its Japan-made designs. The fashion retailer plans to add new concepts as well as expand more quickly overseas.

CVS battle continued drop in custom
Convenience stores are rolling out new initiatives even faster than before as they race to make up for the sector’s first ever drop in revenues during the pandemic. A stream of marketing and product changes are being announced, but the leading chains may need to go even further to make up for the continuing drop off in custom from commuters and to compete with other formats also targeting home-based shoppers.

United Arrows: rebuilding brick by virtual brick
Like other premium fashion brands and retailers, United Arrows has faced unprecedented challenges since March 2020. Sales are still 25% below 2019 levels but the select shop retailer is optimistic about the future, despite the fact that profitability has been in decline since long before Covid.

Retail Ranking: positive and negative reversals

To huge sighs of relief, FY2021-22 proved a rebound year for retailers such as apparel chains that had suffered in the worst months of the pandemic in 2020. Even for the main beneficiaries of pandemic consumer behaviour, such as supermarkets and drugstores, sales in FY2021 still exceeded the bumper boost of 2020. That’s at the sector level. On a company by company basis, the strongest and clearest trend from FY2021 and the few months since, is that both the pandemic and inflation fears have been yet another catalyst for radical divergence in performance between the best and the rest. Whether for suppliers choosing retail partners or retailers looking at locations in malls and department stores, knowing which is which has become ever more important.

Retail Data: Malls in Osaka boom, city dept. stores up 77%

Oisix to acquire Shidax food services
Cosmetics sales boom as people return to work
Shopping centre sales up 30% in May
Parco to open luxury mall in Nagoya
Shimamura stays positive
Look launches A.P.C Golf brand
New Lalaport to open November 2022
IKEA Japan confirms latest full-size store for Maebashi
Daiso selling through Coupang
Sales less than 50% vs. 2019 for 18% of apparel firms
Cainz opens 5th Style Factory
Shiffon signs Mark Gonzales license
Kobe to get new urban centre in 2027
Tsuruha down in FY2021
Trial introduces next generation smart carts
New store formats for Matsukiyo Cocokara
Mitsui Fudosan offers D2C support service
Descente back in the black
Aeon freezes prices on almost all private label lines
Inageya starts selling on Rakuten
Sake subscription service expands to Asia
PayPay to add buy now pay later
Sake Hundred sells to USA

Brands and retailers in this issue

Accordia Golf, 1
Adastria, 1, 13, 22
Aeon, 3, 12–13, 16–20
Air Closet, 1, 4
Albis, 19
Alpen, 19
Amazon, 6, 18, 20
And York, 19
Anta, 11
Aoki Super, 19–20
Aoyama Shoji, 22
Arcland Sakamoto, 16–18, 21
Askul, 1, 16–18
Avail, 5
Axial Retailing, 16, 19

Baroque, 21
Baycrews, 13, 22
Beisia, 7–8, 12, 17–18, 20
Belc, 17–19
Bic Camera, 17–18, 21
Birkenstock, 11
Birthday, 5

Cainz, 7–8, 17–18, 21
California General, 13
Calvin Klein, 6
Cawachi Yakuhin, 1, 17–18, 20
Chubu Yakuhin, 20
Citen, 13
Cocokara Fine, 10
Coen, 13
Cosmos Yakuhin, 17–18, 20
Costco, 7
Coupang Japan, 7
Cox, 21–22

Daiei, 17–19
Daikokuten Bussan, 19
Daily Yamazaki, 21
Daimaru Matsuzakaya, 22
Daiso Sangyo, 7, 17–18
DCM, 17–18, 21
Depot Corp, 21
Descente, 11–12
Doddle, 6
Don Quijote, 10, 17–18

Ecforce, 10
Edion, 17–18, 21

Familymart, 17–18, 21
Fast Retailing, 16–18, 21–22
Foocot, 10–11
Fortress Investment, 1
FrancFranc, 6

Gelato Pique, 6
Genky, 1, 20–21
GU, 7, 22
Gyomu Super, 10–11

H2O, 5, 17–19, 22
Hankyu Hanshin, 17–18, 22
Hankyu Oasis, 19
Heiwado, 17–18, 20
Hokuo Lucky, 19

IKEA, 6–8, 10
Inageya, 12–13, 17–20
Isetan Mitsukoshi, 17–18
Itochu Shoji, 11
Izumi, 17–18, 20
Izumiya, 19
Izutsuya, 22

Japan Post, 6
Jimmy Choo, 8
Joshin Denki, 17–18, 21
Joyful Honda, 21
Jun, 23
Juntendo, 21

Kansai Food, 17–19
Kansai Super, 5, 19
Kao, 5
Kappa, 8
Kasumi, 17–19
Kintetsu, 15, 22
Kobe Bussan, 10, 17–20
Kohnan Shoji, 17–18, 21
Kojima, 17–18, 21
Komeri, 1, 17–18, 21
Konaka, 21–22
Koti Beauty, 13

Lacoste, 6
Lalaport, 6–7, 11
Laox, 21
Lawson, 17–18, 21
Life Corp, 17–19
Lixil, 16, 21
Look Inc, 5
Lopia, 6, 19–20
Lucua, 12

Mac House, 22
Mami Mart, 19
Mark Gonzales, 8
Marui, 22
Matsukiyo Cocokara, 10, 16, 19–20
Maxvalu Kanto, 19
Maxvalu Tokai, 17–19
Maxvalu West, 17–19
Medical Ikko, 20
Meiji Yasuda, 4
Minikura, 4
Ministop, 16–18, 21
Mitsubishi Estate, 4, 8
Mitsubishi Shoji, 13
Mitsui Fudosan, 10–11
Muji, 1
Munsingwear, 11

Nafco, 21
Neopost, 6
Nihon Chozai, 17–18, 20
Nippon Post, 4
Nishimatsuya Chain, 1
Nisseikiso Research, 12
Nitori, 1, 8, 16–18
Nojima, 17–18, 21

Oisix, 3, 19
Otsuka Kagu, 21

Pal Group, 21–22
Parco, 4–5
Poplar, 21
PPI, 17–18

Qol, 20

Rakuma, 8
Rakuten, 6, 12, 17–18, 20
Ryohin Keikaku, 17–18

Sake Post, 13
Seibu, 1
Seijo Ishii, 20
Seiyu, 17–18, 20
Seven Eleven, 3, 12, 17–18, 21
Shidax, 3
Shiffon, 8
Shimamura, 1, 5, 17–18, 21–22
Snidel, 4
Softbank, 1, 9, 22
Style Factory, 7–8
Sugi, 17–18, 20
Sundrug, 17–18, 20
Super Studio, 10–11
Super Value, 19

Tabio, 22
Takashimaya, 1, 16–18, 22
Tokyo Base, 1, 11–12, 22
Tokyu Hands, 8, 21
Tommy Hilfiger, 6
Topvalu, 12
Trial Company, 9, 17–18, 20
Tsuruha, 1, 8–9, 17–18, 20
Tsutaya, 7

Uniqlo, 1, 13, 17–18, 22
United Arrows, 1, 11, 13, 22
USMH, 5, 16–19

Valor, 17–20

Welcia, 17–18, 20
Workman, 1, 8, 18, 22

Xebio, 19

Yahoo, 8, 13
Yakuodo, 20
Yamada Denki, 21
Yamanaka, 19
Yamato Transport, 5–6
Yamaya, 19
Yaoko, 1, 10–11, 17–19
Yodobashi Camera, 1, 17–18, 21
York Benimaru, 17–19

Zozo, 1, 8–9


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