September 6 2023

Tsuruha: a Merger with Welcia on the cards?

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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September 2023 Issue

Sogo Seibu: deal done but Seibu Ikebukuro land sold to Yodobashi 

Seven & I has finally sold Sogo Seibu to Fortress Investments. It will be pleased to have offloaded a loss-making format it never really understood but at a cost – it will write off more than ¥90 billion in loans. To cover the remaining debt, Fortress will immediately sell the land under Seibu Ikebukuro to Yodobashi and the latter is expected to have significant input on the future direction of the chain.

Editorial: More attention on Japan again

Yahoo Shopping down 8%, Zozo up 

GTVs for Yahoo’s shopping division fell by 8% in 1Q2023. Although this was expected and gross profits did improve, the downturn reflects deeper concerns. The group’s Zozo subsidiary continues to outperform – even if more slowly.

An end to price increases in sight?

A recent Nikkei survey suggests the two year long series of price rises from major consumer brands may be slowing down – but they aren’t completely over yet. More than half of firms still plan to raise prices further and retailers may be forced to pass the increases on to protect their own margins.

Itochu to invest in sports, footwear and premium brands

Through all the upheavals in discretionary product distribution in the last decade, Itochu Shoji has managed to maintain huge power in the channel. Its latest plans include more investment in sports and footwear as well as department store brands.

Hakuhodo: a new retail media network targeting smaller retailers

Generating supplemental revenue from in-store advertising is one of the latest and fastest growing trends in retailing. The biggest retail players can work directly with brands and bypass ad agencies, but agencies like Hakuhodo are still hoping to provide new consolidation services that keep brands happy, while offering a bit more income to smaller retail chains.

Charles & Keith: ¥6 billion this year

Charles & Keith has confounded the naysayers who claimed it couldn’t make Japan work after exiting a joint venture in 2017. Since then it has built a chain of 17 stores and a loyal following online, with sales expected to hit ¥6 billion this year.

@Cosme to launch on Amazon

@Cosme continues to carve out a significant share of the cosmetics market, with record sales last year. @Cosme appeals to a wide cross section of the population but this is about to get even wider once it starts selling via Amazon, its biggest shareholder.

Frozen foods becoming mainstream

Frozen food sales are growing rapidly, not least due to expanding supply. Last month, Aeon accelerated its rollout of Picard-inspired @Frozen stores, and Lawson introduced the first frozen rice balls – an idea that is almost certain to be copied by its rivals. Major wholesalers are keen to expand frozen food sales as a way to reduce problems in supply, with the biggest players investing heavily in temperature-controlled logistics.

ABC Mart expands lead in footwear

Japan has a solid if stagnant footwear market, yet it only has one compelling nationwide footwear retailer. ABC Mart continues to outperform its smaller rivals but the real competition is coming from brands selling directly to customers via their own stores and online – and low-cost retailers nipping at its heels from below.

Staff Start boosts Nitori content

Although well-known in the fashion sector, Vanish Standard’s Staff Start social media coordination tools are now being used for other categories, allowing retail staff to create content that can then be tracked directly to customer engagement and sales.

Tsuruha fights off activists

Tsuruha is the latest retailer to come under attack from an activist investment fund. As with Seven & I, the company fended off demands to shake up its board, crucially with the support of Aeon, its largest stakeholder. The move will no doubt lead to some careful reconsideration of how Tsuruha and Aeon could work together.

3Coins: Coining it

Cheap variety stores have always been popular and are becoming even more so as prices rise and people spend more on the home. 3Coins has doubled sales in the last two years but expects continued strong growth going forward.


Department Stores: elitism rules

While big city department stores have only lost 12.8% of sales since 2009, regional stores have lost 45%. But Japan is also witnessing the emergence of a new elite group of department stores who are far ahead even of their big city peers. We now have two sectors: dynamic luxury emporiums and premium station stores on the one hand and all the other old buildings on the other – but with small islands of high performing luxury tenants in some cases. The leaders of the elite group have found more traction among the new wealthy and affluent city dwellers and growth is set to continue.

Retail Data: Tourism rebounds


Temu starts Japan sales

IKEA to open in Maebashi early 2024, popup store in Kyoto next month

Daimaru Matsuzakaya starts art subscriptions

Sex toy market growing in Japan

Duty-free sales in July exceed 2019 for the first time

Coops cut prices

Azabudai Hills to open November with Hermes and Dior among 150 tenants

Konaka converts store space to co-working

33 new malls expected in 2023 as sales exceed 2019

Mitsui opens popup space for online brands

PPI records 34th year of consecutive growth

60% of people eat alone

Muji opens on Zozo

Plum & Ashby signs with EF International 

Dogenzaka targeted for regeneration

Tod’s brings Hogan back to Japan

Self-service checkouts blamed for shoplifting

Joint transportation for confectionery makers

Department stores improving working conditions

Fukuoka a logistics hub for southern Japan

Usui Department Store loses major brands

Godiva plans expansion with Pierre Marcolini

Valor acquires Toho Stores in Kobe

Companies/Brands In this Issue

Acute Grrrl, 15
Adastria, 1
Adidas, 11
Aeon, 2, 4, 7, 9–12
Alpen, 11
Aman Residence, 6
Amazon, 1–2, 5, 7–9
Amu Plaza, 20
Another Address, 4
Anta, 6
Aoyama Shoji, 6
Ark Hills, 6
ArtSticker, 4
Asoko, 13
Athletia, 9
Azabudai Hills, 6–7
Beisia, 3
Berluti, 6
Bottega Veneta, 6
Bulgari, 6
Cainz, 3
Cartier, 6
Cawachi Yakuhin, 1
Celine, 6
Chiyoda, 1, 10–11
Cocokara Fine, 12
Connaissligne, 15
Coronet, 6
Costco, 3
Daimaru Matsuzakaya, 4, 14–15
Daito, 4
Degico, 4
Denham, 6
Dentsu, 7
Descente, 6
Dior, 6
Discoat, 13
Dome, 6
Don Quijote, 8
Entetsu, 16
Familymart, 7
Fila, 6
Fortress Investments, 1
Fujitec, 12
Gap, 3
Genky, 1
Godiva, 13
Green Lawson, 9
GU, 3
Hakuhodo, 1, 7
Hankyu, 1, 17–18
Hapicom, 12
Hermes, 6
Hogan, 10
House Foods, 5
IKEA, 3–4
Isetan, 1, 17, 19
Itochu Shoji, 6
Itochu Shokuhin, 9
Itochu Textile, 6
Iwataya Mitsukoshi, 18
Izutsuya, 19
Janu Hotel, 6
Joinus, 20
Kao, 5
Kasumi, 10
Kato Sangyo, 9
Keikyu Yokohama, 18
Keio Shinjuku, 16, 18
Kintetsu Harukas, 16, 18
Kokubu Group, 9
Konaka, 6
Lanvin, 6
Lawson, 9–10
Leilian, 6
Lohaco, 3, 9
Louis Vuitton, 12
Lucua, 8
Marie Kondo, 13
Maruhiro, 16
Matsukiyo Cocokara, 12
Matsuya Ginza, 11, 16–19
Meitetsu, 16, 19
Mitsubishi Shokuhin, 9
Mitsui Fudosan, 7
Mitsui Shokuhin, 9
Mitsukoshi, 1, 15–16, 19
Moon Creative, 6–7
Mori Building, 6
Mubadala Investment, 1
Muji, 1, 9
Nakasan Department, 7
Nike, 11
Nippon Access, 9–10
Nitori, 1, 11
Oasis Management, 12
Odakyu, 3, 14, 19
Onward Holdings, 8
Pal Group, 13
Parco, 19
Parco Kumamoto, 7
Paul Smith, 6
Picard, 9
Pierre Marcolini, 13
Pinduoduo, 3
PPI, 8
Qoo10, 5
Rakuten, 4, 9
Reebok, 6
Sanko Seika, 11
Scabal, 6
Schematech, 6
Seven Eleven, 7
Shein, 3
Shimamura, 1
Sogo Seibu, 1–3, 17, 19
Staff Start, 1, 11
Sugi, 12
Sundrug, 12
Suntory Foods, 5
Suqqu, 9
Suup, 6
Takashimaya, 1, 11, 14, 18–19
Temu, 3
Tenmaya, 19
Tiffany, 12
Tokiwa, 16
Tokyu, 19
Topvalu, 9
Tsuruha, 1–2, 12
Tsuruya, 16, 19
Tsutaya, 3
Under Armour, 6
Uniqlo, 1, 3
United Arrows, 1, 6
Valor Holdings, 13
Vanish Standard, 11
Vans, 10
Welcia, 12
Xebio, 11
Yahoo, 3–5
Yamakataya, 16
Yodobashi Camera, 3
York Supermarkets, 3
ZHD, 3–4
Zozo, 1, 3–4, 9


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