Isetan Mitsukoshi to close Ebisu department store

Isetan Mitsukoshi is to close its 26-year-old Ebisu department store next year after failing to turn around mounting losses. 

The downtown Tokyo store will close in March or April and the company will redeploy all of its staff to other stores. 

The closure is the latest in a long string for the troubled retailer which since 2008 has reduced its network from 29 to 21. With a stagnant economy and Japan’s ageing population, many large-scale retailers are finding it tough to maintain growth and some are looking offshore for opportunities. 

The company has spent two years progressively refurbishing the 18,000sqm Ebisu Mitsukoshi department store, with a special focus on its food and cosmetics departments. But the changes failed to draw enough customers to make the store viable. 

When it opened at the Yebisu Garden Place commercial centre in downtown Tokyo, the store was expected to tap into a large catchment of nearby condominium residents. However since the late 1990s, other retail developments have opened nearby, drawing customers away. 

News of the closure was broken by the Nikkei Asian Review, which says the board reached a decision this week and a formal announcement will be made by the end of this month. 

Negotiations over an orderly exit from the space have been underway for the last two years.

“The facility has likely posted several million dollars in operating losses a year for the last two to three years,” Nikkei reported.


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