The Modern Tokyo Times

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Tokyo and Osaka fashion: Mulberry to partner with Isetan Mitsukoshi

Tokyo and Osaka fashion: Mulberry to partner with Isetan Mitsukoshi

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Mulberry in 2011 continues to flourish despite the global recession which hit so many nations. Recent figures released state that sales are up by 44% and this British designed label company is now going to focus more on the Japanese market. Therefore, a partnership was announced with Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings whereby Mulberry hopes to penetrate the Japanese market.

Timothy Schepis ( on Tokyo Fashion Daily that Through a joint venture that has been in discussions for years Mulberry has agreed to partner with Isetan Mitsukoshi department store for their entry into Japan. The joint venture itself will be a joint ownership between Mammina, a subsidiary of Isetan Mitsukoshi and Club 21.”

“Over the next ten years Isetan Mitsukoshi will open Mulberry shop-in-shops and eventually Mulberry stand alone stores beginning with flagships in Tokyo and Osaka.”

The reputation of Mulberry continues to bloom and according to internal sources it is expected that sales outside of the United Kingdom will be surpassed by sales in other nations within two years. In the past Mulberry did target Japan but the competitive nature of the Japanese market alongside unique business mechanisms, meant that growth was not so high. Therefore, by agreeing terms with a powerful department store in Japan it is clear that Mulberry is serious about developing sales in the Japanese market.

Recent growth is down to many factors but one outstanding fact is the role of Emma Hill because since she became the creative director, then sales and new ideas have worked swimmingly. The autumn/winter collection was in huge demand in both the United Kingdom and internationally and clearly this company is utilizing its rich history and unique style.

John Fox-Clinch in Bristol Business News comments that “While the firm, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, has in the past run its own store in Japan, it has not made the kind of strides in the country it has achieved in other parts of South East Asia and the Middle East by working with distributors and retailers.”

“The Japanese expansion will be made with a joint venture vehicle owned by Mulberry’s existing Asia Pacific distributor Club 21 and Mammina Co, a unit of Japanese department store chain Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings (IMH).”

“Under the agreement IMH, one of the largest department store chains in Japan, is to make ‘shops-in-shops’ space available to Mulberry including its new flagship stores in Tokyo and Osaka ‘on a progressive basis’.”

Mulberry is also going to focus on Australia and Vietnam and clearly this company understands the importance of Asia. However, China and Japan will be the backbone of overall expansion and fashion districts in Tokyo and Osaka provide huge potential.

Godfrey Davis who is the chairman of Mulberry and chief executive outlined the importance of China and Japan. He commented that “The Asia Pacific region represents a significant growth opportunity for the Mulberry brand and these two agreements lay the foundations for an accelerated penetration of the region, especially China and Japan.”

In the short-term, it would appear that “the apple pie” in Tokyo and Osaka is the real potential because other British companies of luxury goods have found the Chinese market taxing. However, Burberry is doing well in China but other companies have been more mixed. Also, despite the mainly negative growth of the Japanese economy since the early 1990s, it is factual that luxury products are still in huge demand. Therefore, the Japanese market, despite many complexities, is much more stable for luxury items and fashion conscious individuals in Tokyo, Osaka, and all over Japan, value luxury fashion brands.

The beauty of “le style Anglais” is that Mulberry focuses heavily on its British identity and local workers are given opportunities. Given this fact, the image of Mulberry is respected because of the business ethics of this company at the local level.

Markets in Tokyo and Osaka are complex and clearly you have huge competition but “le style Anglais” is also unique in itself. Therefore, the next few years will be very fascinating for Mulberry in Japan because now this company is focused more seriously on growing in this nation. Mulberry Bristol Business News – Tokyo Fashion Daily

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