TOKYO–Singapore-based low-priced shoe retailer Charles & Keith has closed all 14 of its stores in Japan, with its flagship location at Tokyo’s busy Harajuku crossing being the last to shutter on Dec. 31.
The brand declined to comment citing legal obligations with its business partner but said it would continue to operate its online store.
“We are contractually bounded with our business counterparts to reserve providing any comment pertaining to our exit decision,” a spokeswoman for Charles & Keith said.
“Recognizing the positive sentiments of Japan’s digital landscape, we are continuing our brand presence through our ecommerce site as we have a fair pool of customers since launch.”
Charles & Keith Japan is a joint venture between the Singapore company and Onward Holdings, which owns 51 percent of the Japan operation. A spokesman for Onward confirmed the closures but declined to provide details.
The company’s Japanese online shopping site is currently “under construction,” with a message on the top page saying that it will be relaunched this spring. The Onward spokesman said he could neither confirm nor comment on this.
The complete brick-and-mortar exit of a key Asian market is a setback for the retailer, who has expressed ambitions to become the next Zara or Hennes & Mauritz. The company is present in 35 countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and eyeing Europe and the U.S. It is due to open in Hong Kong and Taiwan this year and is searching for a franchise partner to expand into Russia.