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Charles & Keith: finding success in Japan second time round


The Singapore-based bag and footwear chain is having another go at the Japanese market after a failed joint venture and, so far, going direct has proven the right path. Sales are strong and it has just opened its fifth store.

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Singaporean shoes and accessories retailer, Charles & Keith, is being rewarded for its persistence. The brand has 600 stores in 35 countries. After a failed joint venture with Onward Holdings, it relaunched in Japan in 2018 and opened its fifth Japanese store late last month.

Founded in 1996, Charles & Keith designs reasonably priced shoes and accessories for 25-35 year old women, and originally launched in Japan in 2012, but the choice of Onward, which has limited large scale retail and shopping centre experience, hindered progress and, after opening 14 stores from 2013 on, the joint venture was cancelled in 2016.

Charles & Keith has since researched the market through its own team, and used an e-commerce-only operation (a site by run by Locondo as well as sales through the Locondo and Zozotown malls) to repair its brand image, and promote the brand through social media. The brand now has a reported 30,000 registered online customers and has reportedly seen e-commerce sales double in the last year, greatly exceeding the forecast ¥400 million sales for 2018 – online sales are expected to double again this year.

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Following the opening of a first store in Nagoya last summer, Charles & Keith opened a 130 sqm stand alone store in Shibuya last November and then its fifth store in Tokyu Plaza Omotesando last month.

Japan is only the third market in which Charles & Keith operates stores directly, although it has recently launched through its own subsidiary in the UK – all other markets are run by franchisees.


Michael CaustonMichael Causton is the co-founder and partner at JapanConsuming, a specialist research firm on Japanese retail and consumer markets. Founded in 2000, JapanConsuming has become the leading provider of insights on Japanese retailers and consumer trends to retailers, brands, government agencies and investors. As well as a highly regarded monthly report on the market to help subscribers keep up to date with the latest trends and data. JapanConsuming produces in-depth reports on retail sectors, seminars on key trends and consulting on market strategies and future trends.


(Source: JapanConsuming)