SUPER PILOT: Seiyu Ltd., which has Wal-Mart as its largest shareholder, has opened the first supercenter store in Japan, in Namazu, southwest of Yokohama. The one-story supermarket, modeled after the ones operated by Wal-Mart in the U.S., displays all its merchandise, from food and clothing to home products, on a single floor with about 87,000 square feet of space.

The Namazu store is positioned as a pilot, a Seiyu spokeswoman said, explaining that the company plans to add more supercenter-type supermarkets beginning in 2007. She declined to reveal how many are planned.

Large shopping carts are available, and customers may wheel loaded carts all the way to the parking lot. Cashiers are concentrated at one site to cut costs.

Under its new five-year business plan, which began this year, Seiyu is embarking on an aggressive expansion by taking advantage of Wal-Mart’s global procurement capabilities and store management technology. Earlier this month, Seiyu opened a large-scale supermarket with three floors covering 97,000 square feet in Oji, Nara Prefecture, in western Japan, which sells a wide range of merchandise, including private brand products and imported goods.

A third format, or what Seiyu calls a supermarket complex with a floor space of 217,000 square feet, is opening today in Fusso outside Tokyo, which will sell, among other things, food, clothing, hobby items and sundry goods. —Tsukasa Furukawa

EXPANDING COACH: Coach opened a 5,500-square-foot flagship in Marunouchi, Tokyo, last week that is expected to generate sales of $5.6 million to $7.4 million, or 600 million yen to 800 million yen. The new store is the brand’s 100th unit in Japan since it bowed in the country 16 years ago. The two-story store carries Coach handbags and men’s and women’s shoes, clothes and watches. Marunouchi is known as one of the busiest business districts in Tokyo, but recently has earned a reputation as a fashionable town where boutiques such as Brooks Brothers and Kate Spade have opened. Coach also has flagships in Ginza and Shibuya in Tokyo. In fiscal 2005, the brand plans to open three more flagships in Japan and expand sales floors within department stores. For the fiscal year ended June 2003, Coach Japan generated sales of $197.2 million, or 21.3 billion yen, up 64 percent from the previous year. Dollar figures are converted at current exchange. — Koji HiranoMAGLI’S NEW LOOK: In what is being publicized as a campaign to rejuvenate the Italian brand, Bruno Magli Japan, a venture between Bruno Magli SpA and Japanese interests led by Itochu Corp., has opened a three-floor, 2,400-square-foot flagship on Omotesando Boulevard in Tokyo, with the goal of opening 50 stores, including 30 directly operated ones, by 2007. The Japanese company has a sales target of $66 million, or 7 billion yen, at retail.

Fifty-one percent of the joint venture company, capitalized at $3.8 million, or 400 million yen at current exchange, is owned by the Bologna-based firm, 34 percent by Itochu and 15 percent by Kanematsu Corp.

Itochu said rejuvenating the brand involves fusing its traditional dignity with contemporary elegance to attract a younger clientele. Also, the firm will add bags, leather accessories, leatherwear, silk ties and other merchandise to its main line of women’s and men’s shoes. — T.F.

PULLING OUT: Lancel will end its retail and wholesale business in Japan on July 31, according to Richemont Japan. The withdrawal is part of Richemont’s strategy to strengthen Lancel in such core markets as France, where the flagship at the Opera de Paris Garnier will be remodeled and a new shop on Champs-Elysées will open this year. A decision has not been made about the brand’s licenses, such as shoes in Japan. — K.H.

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