Liz Claiborne and Dana Buchman shops will be opened by a partnership between LIZ CLAIBORNE INC. and JUSCO CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 25). The big New York City manufacturer of women's career clothing and sportswear will own 19 percent of the joint venture and will be responsible for store design, product selection, marketing and product positioning. Supermarket operator Jusco, which already operates Talbots and Laura Ashley stores in Japan and works with a number of other name foreign retailers, will own 81 percent of the new company and handle day-to-day operations of the Liz Claiborne and Dana Buchman stores. These will be both freestanding stores and shops inside department stores. The first store could be open by mid-1999. In time, Liz Claiborne expects to have as many as 100 outlets in Japan.
The first international store to be established by outdoor retailer RECREATIONAL EQUIPMENT, INC. will be located in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Seattle-based REI currently is scouting locations. The store will have sections for camping, climbing and bicycling equipment. It also will stock a full line of clothing and accessories for outdoor activities. The earliest the store would open is late 1999. REI currently serves the market through mail-order sales. It has some 80,000 customers in Japan, including 28,000 or so who purchased something in 1997.
WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC., the San Francisco retailer of upscale cookware and related products, is in the process of closing all 15 of its in-store shops in Japan. The company formed a joint venture with TOKYU DEPARTMENT STORE CO., LTD. in 1988. The contract under which the 19 percent/81 percent partnership operated retail locations expired in July. Williams-Sonoma apparently decided that business in Japan did not warrant an extension of the arrangement. The joint venture's sales in FY 1997 were $14.9 million.
An exchange rate of ¥141=$1.00 was used in this report.