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Content - Japanese retailer Muji to enter Swiss market

  • November 26, 2018

Japanese retailer Muji to enter Swiss market

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Switzerland is receiving a growing amount of attention from large Japanese retail companies. First, Fast Retailing, the company behind the textile brand Uniqlo, won a sponsoring contract with Swiss tennis star Roger Federer to promote its brand especially in Europe. Now, Ryohin Keikaku, the parent company of the Japanese department store chain Muji, has decided to enter the “attractive” Swiss market. After the establishment of a subsidiary named Muji Switzerland AG in January, it plans to open its first store in October 2019. The store location has already been fixed.

Muji soon also in Switzerland

Shopping center in Zurich

According to press reports in Switzerland, the first store with a surface area of 1,000 square meters will be in Zurich’s Glatt shopping center. Glatt is Switzerland's largest shopping center in terms of sales. The reports added that further Muji branches are planned if the business in Zurich starts successfully. In its press release, the Japanese department store operator sounds very optimistic about the potential of Switzerland and praises it as an attractive country for its own retail goods.  

Switzerland would be one of the growing markets among the most developed countries in the world, with the second highest per capita nominal GDP and an estimated annual growth rate of 1.8% in 2018. “We expect that our experience and know-how in the European market would help in running stores that serve everyday living and increase Muji fans in the area,” the company said. The judgement may surprise analysts of the Swiss retail market which is struggling with structural changes to online and shopping tourism.

Simple, functional, sustainable

The Muji focus on “simple, functional and sustainable” products has been very successful also outside of Japan. The brand was launched in 1980 by the Japanese Seibu department store group. The name Muji is the short form of Mujirushi Ryohin, which means "no brand, good products". In addition to clothing, the product range includes stationery, office supplies, cosmetics, household appliances and furniture. 

Its credo is to manufacture simple, inexpensive and high-quality products by resource-saving and extremely rationalized production processes. "If, for example, you omit the bleaching process for the pulp, the resulting paper is light beige instead of bright white”, the company says on its website. Muji uses such paper for packaging and stickers. 

Big international operation

The brand uses well-known international designers for some of its products. But the names of the designers are not revealed with the argument that the design and usefulness of the products should convince the customer, not the well-known name. Many articles have already been awarded prizes. Some are even on display in London's Victoria and Albert Museum and New York's Museum of Modern Art. 

Muji was launched in 1980 by the Japanese Seibu department store group. Three years later the first branch in Tokyo followed, and in 1990 the company became completely independent of the Seibu group. In 1991, the company expanded into Europe, where the first store was opened in London. Muji now has around 800 stores in over 25 countries and generates sales of 379.5 billion JPY. Meanwhile, it also operates restaurants, hotels and flower shops. 

 

Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ; Photo: Muji store in Dusseldorf, Germany (Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0)

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