Another Japanese player is about to step into Vietnam's retail market

By Nguyen Le - Oct 06, 2017 | 02:16 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERThe leading Japanese retailer,Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd, which owns a global retail chains named Muji, has a potential joint venture (JV) partner for Vietnam market entry with the expectation of opening its first store in Vietnam, according to its general manager Kenji Takeuchi.

Another Japanese player is about to step into Vietnam's retail market
Muji is operating 422 overseas outlets in more than 30 countries. Photo:

However, the entry plan of 925.2 billion yen (US$8.2 billion) is currently at a standstill as its managers concern that Vietnam is still a small market compared to others. Besides, the investment will be very expensive when taking the expected return into account, he noted on the sidelines of the company’s QII/2017 earnings presentation yesterday (October 4).

Earlier, in July 2017, local media reported that Ryohin Keikaku was seeking to open its first Muji store in Vietnam, either in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, in Autumn 2018.

"The company has yet to sign an official agreement for such a partnership at this stage and does not have a fixed timeline for market entry," Takeuchi said.

It does not usually hire financial advisors for setting up JVs overseas, but it is likely to hire a legal advisor for due diligence, he noted, that in the case of Vietnam it had secured such an advisor.

Ryohin Keikaku owns the Café and Meal brand operating 23 stores across Japan as of the end of February 2017 (FY16), according to company data.

In addition to the Muji retail chain, the company also participates in camping sites and housing businesses. The company also owns IDEE, a subsidiary operating in the furniture manufacturing sector.

Ryohin Keikaku has 400 Muji retail outlets in Japan and 422 overseas outlets in more than 30 countries in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East. About half of them are located in China.

The company is currently planning to further develop its retail presence in overseas markets by opening larger stores as well as improving online retail websites to boost online sales, President and Representative Director Satoru Matsuzaki said during the presentation.

Ryohin Keikaku posted sales of 333.28 billion yen and operating income of 38.28 billion yen for the fiscal year ended February 2017 (FY16), up from 307.5 billion yen and 32.7 billion yen respectively, from FY15.

The company is valued at 35.4 billion yen and employs 6,992 people in 2016, according to the company.