Inside Retail Asia breaking news, supplier information, product launches and consumer campaigns within the Japan retail sector.

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Snow Miku makes retail debut

A new retail store-cum-museum has opened in Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, Japan – a tribute to Snow Miku, a recently contrived animated character who promotes the region. Snow Miku, born in 2010 through a snow sculpture of local ‘virtual singer’ Hatsune Miku, is a character which now exemplifies Hokkaido’s winter culture. The country’s northernmost island is a popular tourist destination for Asian tourists seeking to experience snow and snowsports. Since 2012, the costume design for…

Topshop in Japan shock

UK-based fashion group Topshop has shuttered its stores in Japan. No explanation has been given for the closure – but it appears Topshop’s parent Arcadia Group is in some form of dispute with its Japanese partners. In a statement issued overnight in response to media enquiries Topshop confirmed the stores were operated by a franchise partner. “The Japanese market is an important part of Topshop’s business and there are no plans to pull out of this key international territory,” the c…

Isetan Mitsukoshi: ‘This is Japan’

Isetan Mitsukoshi has adopted a new branding positioning – and promises a new in-store concept which will make its debut in Malaysia. In a message to shareholders, CEO Hiroshi Ohnishi says the company has adopted a new corporate message for 2015 ‘This is Japan’, which will lead to a new in-store concept shortly to be launched in Kuala Lumpur’s Lot 10 shopping centre. “Since generations past when Mitsukoshi and Isetan operated as kimono merchants, we have always had an eye for quali…

Asics to go it alone in India

Japanese sportswear brand Asics has received Indian government approval to operate as a single brand retailer. As a result, the company will end its exclusive distribution arrangement with Indian retail powerhouse Reliance Retail and appoint its own retail partners. However, it said Reliance would be its preferred retail partner, demonstrating the companies remain on good terms. The company has already formed an Indian subsidiary Asics India Pvt Ltd. “We have an exclusive distribution a…

Tokyo, Taipei: 2015’s Asian retail hotspots

Asia Pacific retail rent growth will continue in 2015 – but at a slower pace, according to the latest research from CBRE Asia. Rental growth is projected to ease to 2.4 per cent region wide, compared with 5.4 per cent in 2014. The hottest markets: Tokyo, where rentals are expected to rise by about 10 per cent, followed by Taiwan’s Taipei, Sydney and Melbourne which will post more modest growth, according to CBRE. Prime rental growth in China will be less than five per cent in 2015, wi…

Michael Kors to open Ginza monster

Michael Kors will open its largest Japanese flagship store this fall, on Chuo St in Tokyo’s Ginza district. The store will be the first in the world to carry every category offered by the global luxury lifestyle brand. “Japan is a key market for our continued development in Asia,” said Michael Kors. “This is a very exciting opening. Ginza is one of the world’s great shopping neighborhoods, in one of the greatest fashion cities, so it’s both exciting and appropriate that we…

Japan retail sales underwhelm

Japan’s retail sales rose a marginal 0.2 per cent in December – the sixth consecutive monthly year-on-year increase. Analysts had expected a stronger one per cent increase, despite challenging economic circumstances largely due to the nation’s declining and ageing population. Department stores were the weakest link, with data from the Japan Department Stores Association showing a same-store sales fall of 1.7 per cent year-on-year – the ninth consecutive fall. The fall would have been g…

Japanese eyes on California

Japan’s largest eyewear retailer Jins is to launch in the US, opening an inaugural flagship store in San Francisco’s Union Square this spring. Tokyo-based Jins launched its first store in 2001 and now operates more than 300 retail locations across Japan and China. The 4900 sqft flagship will be located at 151 Powell St and Jins promises it will stock one of the most expansive collections of eyeglasses in the city. In tandem with the store, Jins will launch a US eCommerce site in Spr…

Westfield Study Tour spots available

Places are still available for this year’s Westfield World Retail Study Tour, which will visit five cities including New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. To take place over 17 days from May 3 2015, the tour will hear from more than 50 speakers, who will share their strategies, insights, and learnings into the latest themes impacting retail including building team culture, leveraging technology and big data to understand and engage customers, delivering exceptional cu…

Muji introduces self checkouts

Japanese chain Muji has contracted NCR to supply self checkout machines for a trial in its Japanese stores. In doing so, it becomes the first non-grocery retailer in the nation to adopt self checkout technology. Muji, a quirky anti-brand department store chain selling homewares, stationery, apparel, giftwares and foods, has a growing global footprint after achieving significant success in its home market, and wider Asia. NCR says Muji, owned by Ryohin Keikaku Co, will deploy the NCR Sel…

Uniqlo global sales soar

Uniqlo has reported a stellar quarter with international sales soaring 47 per cent. And its operating profit outside its home market of Japan rose even further in the three months to November 30 – by 57.2 per cent year on year to ¥24.3 billion, (US$203 million). Uniqlo, in a statement, said the international division performed “extremely well” with revenue and profit higher than expected. On the domestic market, Uniqlo also achieved higher than expected increases in revenue and profit…

Aeon reshuffles executive team

Japan retailer and mall operator Aeon Co has started the year with a reshuffle of its management team. The changes will effectively halve the number of executives and employees at head office level, with many functions like human resources and other operational roles moved to operating units, reducing centralisation. In personnel, Aeon Mall president Soichi Okazaki has been appointed president of Aeon Retail, replacing Kazunori Umemoto, who takes the role of Aeon Retail chairman. Okazak…