Further evidence of turnaround exists in the recent spate of M&A activity in the Japanese retail sector. December alone saw the $2 billion purchase of Millennium Retailing's Sogo and Seibu chains by Seven & I Holdings (created this past September). This followed only days after Wal-Mart bought the Seiyu group. Even so, Miyuki Kinoshita, manager, program sales
and Disney characters, remain strong. Kinoshita estimates the total Japanese licensing market, including all product groups such as DVDs, clothing, etc.—not just toys—is approximately $27.9 billion per annum, with some of the strongest characters generating around $894 million per annum. Kinoshita's emphasis that these figures are for all product categories—not just toys—is an important one as, again, both executives agree, the toy product category is in decline. "Traditional toys, especially for girls, are suffering badly," comments Yoshida, while Kinoshita observes that this decline has spawned two very different responses. "Some toy companies," she notes, "have targeted an older demo, launching products such as Home Star, which is installed in the bedroom and displays the night sky on the ceiling. On the flip side, Toys "R" Us has gone for the baby market, opening a new chain, Babies "R" Us, which already has 30 stores compared to 140 for Toys "R" Us and which already is more profitable."
Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes, it’s completely free.