Aeon Group pouring money into digital space

Major Japanese retailer Aeon Group plans to invest ¥500 billion (US$4.4 billion) in online retail over the next three years.

Representing a 150 per cent spike in its online investments, the plan has been revealed in a new midterm business plan.

Openings of tenant stores in Japanese shopping malls have shrunk by 30 per cent in the past year, a Nikkei survey shows. Stores are also closing faster than they are opening, and malls are struggling to find replacements.

Aeon has spent 18 months mapping out its new strategy, which is intended to ensure its long-term survival. The midterm plan will be in effect until fiscal 2020.

“We will spend more on things other than brick-and-mortar stores,” Aeon president Motoya Okada said after unveiling the plan in Tokyo.

Aeon’s massive investment in technologies and services to raise its online retailing profile reflects the challenges it faces along with other traditional merchants.

Okada said the company also plans to double its investment for boosting its online business beginning in fiscal 2021.

He also said “old-fashioned” retailers have learned much from Amazon.

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