Japanese workwear retailer, Workman, is intent on taking on Decathlon in the domestic market and created the Workman Plus chain to do it last September.
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It has already opened 14 stores since then and will expand to 68 by this time next year. Stores converted from the Workman brand have increased sales as much as 45%, adding fuel to Workman’s enthusiasm for its new consumer business.
Utility and outdoor retailer, Workman, opened its 14th Workman Plus store in April after launching the brand in September. As well as third-party brands, the new stores primarily focus on Workman’s three key private brands, FieldCore, Find-Out and Aegis, for which sales rose to ¥12 billion in FY2018 with a forecast of ¥28 billion this year.
Workman says the new chain is a hit everywhere, with the Osaka store’s same-store sales up 45% year-on-year in December compared to the Workman store it replaced.
Its latest stores also display a much greater ratio of product for women – a weakness of the early stores. Workwear at the new store in Lalaport Shonan Hiratsuka, for example, has more and brighter colour ways and smaller sizes, as well as a women’s outdoor sports corner, with around 40% of merchandise targeted at women.
As a result of this success, and the launch of Decathlon in the region last month, Workman plans to concentrate its expansion on Kansai over the next 18 months. It is on track to have 38 Workman Plus stores open by September and 68 by March 2020, 10 of which will be in SCs. It also plans to convert all 102 Workman stores in the Kansai region to Workman Plus within a year.
To build brand equity and attempt to divert consumer attention from the Decathlon launch – and to take advantage of the interest that opening generates – the Beisia-owned chain just launched a TV spot and newspaper flyer campaign across Kansai. One of its newest stores is in Lalaport Koshien, 3km from Decathlon’s first store in Hankyu Nishinomiya Garden, which recorded sales of ¥4.6 million on its first day of trading – a typical Workman store sells ¥100 million a year.
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Workman says the Japanese low-price outdoor market has a value of ¥400 billion which will expand 8% this year, and that it regards its own chain and Decathlon as the only two major competitors in this market.
Michael 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