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Ryohin Keikaku eyes raising overseas sales ratio to 50% in 10 years.

NEW YORK, May 29 Kyodo

Japanese retailer Ryohin Keikaku Co., which sells household items and apparel around the world under the Muji brand, aims to raise the ratio of combined overseas sales to 50 percent from the current 10 percent in about 10 years, a senior company official said Thursday.

Tadamitsu Matsui, chairman and representative director of the Tokyo-based company, made the remarks on the eve of the launch of its U.S. flagship store in New York's Times Square on Friday.

''Let's say our annual sales around the world will total about 300 billion yen ($2.84 billion) in 10 years, with half of that coming from overseas stores at 150 billion yen,'' Matsui said in an interview with Kyodo News.

''Last year, combined sales at our overseas stores totaled 19.3 billion yen. So it will probably take about 10 years to achieve the 50 percent goal provided that everything goes well,'' Matsui said.

Matsui said the company's intermediate target is to raise the combined sales at overseas stores to about 20 percent in about four years.

At present, Ryohin Keikaku has 338 stores in Japan and 84 overseas -- in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Matsui said the company may achieve the 50 percent goal sooner because it has been opening new stores at a faster pace overseas than in Japan in recent years.

Matsui said the company is setting its eyes on non-Japanese markets because the Japanese consumer market is shrinking due to the falling birthrate.

He also said, ''Competing against the world's major retailers will be good for us. It would raise our merchandise's competitiveness even when we re-introduce it in Japan in the future.''

The launch of the Times Square store followed an opening last November of Muji's first U.S. outlet in New York's fashionable SoHo district.

Located on the ground floor of the New York Times Building, the flagship store with a retail floor space of about 400 square meters will carry about 2,200 products -- household items and apparel -- about half of what is available at a standard Muji store in Japan.

The flagship store targets annual sales of about $4 million to

$5 million, Matsui said.

Muji stands for ''Mujirushi Ryohin'' which means ''no-name brand.'' None of its 7,000 products carries a logo, and they have been known for simple design and minimum packaging since they were launched in Japan in 1980.

Ryohin Keikaku is listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It made a record 10.7 billion yen in consolidated net profit in the year ended in February this year on a record 162.8 billion yen in sales.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Jun 2, 2008
Words:445
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