Japanese apparel firm World has confirmed plans to acquire Narumiya International, a major childrenswear retailer. World first acquired a 10 percent stake in Narumiya in June 2018 and then purchased an additional stake in March 2019 to bring its holding to 25 percent, at a total cost of JPY3.7 billion (US$ 32.1 million).
Although World is one of the largest apparel firms in Japan, it has little exposure to the childrenswear market and will use Narumiya’s expertise to expand. Narumiya itself hopes to benefit from World’s raw material purchasing, production, store development and marketing skills. Since 2018, World has worked closely with Narumiya, introducing a version of its IT system to manage supply chains and helping to negotiate with developers.
Narumiya is a childrenswear retailer serving the premium end of the market. It has traditionally relied on department stores but has recently expanded successfully into suburban shopping centres. In the early 2000s, Narumiya enjoyed rapid growth thanks to the success of brands like Angel Blue and Mezzo Piano which were largely sold through department store concessions, with sales peaking at JPY36 billion (US$ 312 million) in 2004, leading to a TSE listing in 2005. However, when the boom for those brands ended soon after, sales promptly shrank back to JPY14 billion (US$ 121 million) and, from 2007, the company was put under the protection of SBI Capital.
In 2010, at which time SBI delisted the business, Narumiya hired the previous CEO of Adastria and moved to establish more brands in the shopping centre market, such as Lovetoxic and Petit Main, which helped bring in new types of customer. As a result of these initiatives and support from Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), which acquired SBI’s stake in 2016, sales have since revived and JIP re-listed the firm in 2018 at the same time as selling shares to World.
Sales have risen from JPY20.7 billion (US$ 180 million) in the fiscal year 2015 to an estimated JPY34.5 billion (US$ 299 million) for the year ending March 2022, up 16.9 percent on the year. As well as this new push into childrenswear, World has also been trying to diversify beyond apparel, signing a deal with Laura Ashley (via Itochu Shoji) in 2020 for example.
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