TOKYO-Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings plans to develop its international business, online presence and private label offerings as part of its corporate strategy for the next three years.
Growing sales at the group’s international stores will continue to be a priority for the group, president and representative director Kunio Ishizuka said Thursday at a press conference. Isetan Mitsukoshi currently operates 12 stores outside Japan, most of which are located in Asia. He said the group is open to expanding further with new stores but there are no concrete plans yet.
He was similarly vague when it came to discussing the retailer’s plans for the web. Currently Isetan Mitsukoshi sells some products online but the selection is limited compared to that of its physical stores
The executive said the first co-branded Isetan Mitsukoshi store, which will be attached to Osaka’s main train station, will open May 4. Japan Railway will co-manage the store through a joint venture with the department store operator.
Although Isetan and Mitsukoshi merged in 2007, operations of the companies have until now remained separate. But as of April 1 they will be merged into one entity.
Hiroshi Onishi, who has been chosen as president of the newly merged retail operations said Isetan Mitsukoshi plans to add more private label products to its stores’ offerings in an attempt to differentiate itself from its competitors.
“As department stores, we’re in a position closest to the customers, so we hear their opinions of the products we offer first,” Onishi said at a press conference here. “We plan to use this position to make products that customers most want to buy.”
Department stores have been struggling in Japan for several years as the economy has stagnated and consumers have found plenty of other places to shop including outlets, specialty stores, websites and fast-fashion chains. They have also shunned pricy European luxury goods, a longtime staple of Isetan Mitsukoshi and other department stores including Takashimaya and Seibu.
Onishi said the group is expecting operating profit to reach 30 billion yen, or $362.42 million at current exchange rates, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, compared to a figure of just 9 billion yen, or $108.73 million for the current financial year.
While Isetan has long planned to remodel its flagship store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, the project has finally been given a timeline. The renovation will be completed in two stages, in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013.
“Our goal with the remodel is not to increase sales, but to attract new
customers,” said Onishi. “We plan to make the best store in the world even better.”