By  on April 17, 2009

TOKYO — Muji is scaling back its international expansion plans in the wake of the ongoing financial crisis.

Ryohin Keikaku Co. Ltd., which owns the Muji chain of apparel, interior and general goods stores, is curbing its ambitions in Europe and the U.S.

The company had planned to open about 20 stores in the U.S., Europe and Asia during the current fiscal year, but has put many of the openings on hold. Five of the stores planned for the U.S. have been shelved due to sluggish consumer demand.

“We realized that things probably won’t go as planned,” a spokeswoman said.

Ryohin Keikaku had expected to open about 10 stores in four countries across Europe, but will postpone roughly half of those projects indefinitely, mainly those planned for the U.K., the first market the retailer entered in Europe.

The company still plans to expand internationally, but has now changed course to put its focus more on the Asian market, where Muji stores face less competition than in Europe or the U.S. It will proceed with plans to open about 15 stores across the region, most of which will be located in China, where Muji’s sales remain strong. The company will also open its first store in Indonesia this June.

As of the end of February, Ryohin Keikaku operated 98 freestanding stores outside of Japan. The company also stocks select Muji products at MoMA stores in New York City.

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