MITSUKOSHI, DAIMARU PLAN JOINT BUYING

NEW YORK--In a move that could have a major impact on American exporters, two large Japanese chains, Mitsukoshi Ltd. and The Daimaru Inc., have agreed to jointly plan and buy merchandise beginning in January.
The firms characterized the strategy, announced Wednesday, as a "business tie-up" affecting women's, men's and children's wear, accessories, sporting goods, furniture and home goods.
"We will still be separate companies, but working together on the merchandise," said Ken Schigematsu, president of Mitsukoshi USA. He said 5 percent of store volume should be jointly purchased next year.
The Tokyo-based Mitsukoshi, which operates 14 department stores, did about $8 billion in sales last year. Daimaru, based in Osaka, has seven department stores that did $5.5 billion in sales last year.
The chains said the move will provide them with greater buying clout, more brands and private labels; will lower costs and will help them compete in the difficult and highly competitive Japanese marketplace. The two companies are not considered competitors, since Mitsukoshi stores are concentrated in eastern Japan and Daimaru units are in the west. Each has stores in Tokyo and Osaka, but according to Schigematsu, "That's no problem. The markets are large enough."
Mitsukoshi carries more American and European designer labels, including Donna Karan, DKNY and Giorgio Armani, than Daimaru.

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