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No. 362, November 1999

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American Companies in Japan


MERCHANDISING

The second Costco Wholesale membership warehouse in Japan will be located in Makuhari, Chiba prefecture. It is scheduled to open in December 2000. COSTCO COS. INC. launched its first local outlet in April in Fukuoka prefecture (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 19). Since then, it has signed up 260,000 small businesses and individuals as members, disproving skeptics who questioned whether the warehouse retailing concept would work in Japan. At some 161,500 square feet, the Chiba prefecture facility will be even larger than the one in suburban Fukuoka (140,000 square feet). However, it also will carry roughly 4,000 products, everything from food to appliances, furniture and office supplies.

The biggest GAP INC. store in Japan is in business. Located in Tokyo's fashionable Harajuku shopping area, the outlet has 25,500 square feet of space devoted to casual clothing for men, women, children and infants. With 10 stores set to open this fall, including the Tokyo flagship location, Gap soon will have 49 outlets across the country. By the end of 2000, the retailer expects the total to hit 90-plus.

TOYS "R" US INC.'s new, customer-friendly store layout (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 19) has made its first appearance in an urban setting. What the company calls its C-3 format was employed at a 36,800-square-foot store that just opened in Yokohama's Minato Mirai 21 shopping area. The doors have opened at the first OfficeMax office supplies store in Tokyo, but in moving into the capital, OFFICEMAX, INC. and partner JUSCO CO., LTD. had to abandon for cost reasons the superstore format used at the joint venture's six other outlets. The new store, located in the Iidabashi area of Tokyo, has only 4,300 square feet of selling space. However, it offers such services as desktop publishing and PC rentals in addition to a variety of products for the office. For now, OfficeMax plans to focus on opening other stores in the Tokyo area that fall into the floor range of 3,550 to 5,400 square feet. That also is the strategy that rival OFFICE DEPOT, INC. is pursing in Japan.

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