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Aeon to press ahead with China expansion

Aeon Mall Co. said it still plans to open three large shopping malls in China in the second half of 2014.

They will be in the eastern cities of Tianjin and Suzhou and the southern city of Guangzhou, according to the unit of retail giant Aeon Co.

Earlier this month, the Aeon group's Jusco store in the eastern city of Qingdao was damaged by a violent protest, part of the series of anti-Japan demonstrations sparked by the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

An Aeon group official said Wednesday the group will proceed with the shopping mall project as planned.

"China remains an important market," the official said.

The Aeon group operates three shopping malls in China, as well as Jusco and other stores. The firm hopes to increase the number of shopping malls to 12 by the end of June 2015.
Uniqlo to stick it out

Casual wear firm Uniqlo Co. President Tadashi Yanai says his company will continue to aggressively open new shops in China despite the anti-Japan protests that broke out this month over the Senkaku territorial dispute.

Yanai said at a news conference Wednesday that China also remains a key production base for Uniqlo, and that Japan and China should be good partners.

Uniqlo opened its first Chinese store in Shanghai in September 2002. As of the end of last month, it had 145 outlets in the country. The company aims to eventually increase the number to 1,000.

Sixty Uniqlo stores in China were forced Sept. 18, to close or cut opening hours due to safety concerns amid the anti-Japanese rallies.

The company says it aims to sell 130 million units of its Heattech thermal inner wear globally this winter, up 30 percent from a year earlier.

The unit of Fast Retailing Co. said it plans to add more colors and designs to the inner wear line, which was developed jointly with Toray Industries Inc.

The brisk sales target is backed by strong demand in fast-growing emerging economies, including China. Uniqlo hopes to raise the proportion of overseas sales of Heattech to 15 percent in the coming season from 10 percent last winter.
14,400 firms in China

Almost 14,400 Japanese firms had local units and offices in China as of the end of August, according to a survey by Teikoku Databank Ltd.

The 14,394 firms come from every prefecture of Japan, and not just the biggest cities, the private credit research agency said Wednesday.

The two countries have become embroiled in a bitter territorial row fueled by Japan's nationalization earlier this month of three islets in the disputed Senkaku chain in the East China Sea.

"If the soured relations between Japan and China last a long time, the economic impact will extend to the whole Japan, also involving the business partners of those firms," a Teikoku official said.

Of the firms operating in China, 4,748 are based in Tokyo, followed by 2,271 in Osaka Prefecture and 1,051 in Aichi Prefecture. Of the 47 prefectures, 24 had more than 100 firms operating businesses in China.

By industry, manufacturers topped the list with 5,951 companies, followed by 5,057 wholesalers. These two sectors accounted for nearly 80 percent of the total.

In terms of size, the number of small firms with annual sales of less than ¥1 billion stood at 6,114, accounting for more than 40 percent. Of the small firms that disclose their financial performance, one in four posted net losses in their latest earnings.

"The (island) spat may accelerate moves among Japanese firms to pull out of China," the official said.

Source: www.japantimes.co.jp

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