"Disneyland is the biggest competitor" Tommy Kullberg (IKEA Japan)
This time, he said, the company has done its homework and is confident Japanese consumers, used to unparalleled service and smaller stores, are ready for its large-scale, no-frills retail methods. At the heart of its new strategy is an emphasis on "small space living", with two-seater sofas, space-saving storage boxes and sofa beds for studio apartments. Most of the goods are the same as in its other stores.
"Multinational companies entering Japan often don't spend enough time to understand the nature of the competition here, which is usually fairly fierce, and the so-called unique needs of Japanese consumers," said Davide Mara, a principal at consulting firm in Tokyo. "The key challenge for Ikea will be to translate their very globally successful concept, the type of design they offer and their retail format, into an acceptable Japanese way," he added.
The stakes are also high for existing rivals, including out-of-town home improvement stores and downtown shops such as Muji, the "no brand" homeware retailer sometimes described as Japan's Ikea. But with Japanese furniture sales in decline, despite 1.2 million new homes being built every year, all retailers can profit if they can manage to expand the overall market, says Lars Petersson, Ikea's retail manager in Japan. "We have seen all over, wherever we have established stores, that there is room for everyone," he said, "In all cases we saw that the total cake became bigger." (AFP) IKEA JAPAN > www.ikea.com/jp/en