Selling British classics with Japanese service

RETAILERS in central London are facing competition from the Japanese for the custom of Japanese tourists. Sogo, a department store group with 28 stores in Japan, opened its first British store yesterday on Piccadilly Circus.

The store has a three-coach parking bay, where tour groups are deposited and ushered into the lower ground floor through a private rear entrance.

Japanese shop assistants bow as the tourists surge into the store to buy a share of British heritage: Liberty ties, Pringle argyll sweaters, University of Oxford sweatshirts, Wimbledon wallets.

To be Japanese and to be shopping in London this summer is to be in very heaven. Retailers are bending over backwards to meet every need of high-spending Japanese customers.

Harrods runs a Japanese information desk, Simpson's of Piccadilly operates a sushi bar and most central London stores employ at least one Japanese-speaking assistant.

The Japanese spend an average of pounds 63 a day in Britain, compared with pounds 52 spent by Americans. More than 500,000 are expected to visit Britain this year.

A spokesman for Sogo said the store expected 50 to 60 per cent of sales to be to Japanese customers.

Masayo Hioki, a shy 24-year- old from Osaka, was among the customers yesterday. 'This shop is very nice. It has everything in one place.' The Japanese also appreciate high standards of service from staff, including a virtuoso ability to fold and wrap clothes neatly.

The Japanese retailers' move into central London began in the Seventies with the opening of Igirisu Ya ('the English Shop') in Hanover Square. In the late Eighties, Isetan and Takashimaya opened stores in Bond Street, and Mitsukoshi in Regent Street.

The Japanese have also acquired long-established British clothing and luxury goods companies, including Aquascutum, bought by Renown for pounds 74m in 1990, and Daks-Simpson, snapped up by Sankyo Seiko last year for pounds 65m.

Megumi Wetherall, executive, Far East division, Daks-Simpson, said Japanese customers at Simpson's of Piccadilly accounted for 55 per cent of sales during the summer months. 'They love anything traditionally British, particularly Daks leather goods and accessories.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?