April 24, 2014 3:04 am JST

H2O Retailing to open Chinese store in 2018

OSAKA -- H2O Retailing, a member of the Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores group, plans to enter China by opening a shopping center anchored by a department store in Ningbo in spring 2018.

     This will be the first time H2O will open a directly run store overseas. At present, its only business abroad is providing department store management advice to a Taiwanese partner. With the Japanese population contracting and aging, H2O expects the domestic market to dwindle and is thus looking to cultivate business abroad.

     The total investment in the Ningbo project will exceed 50 billion yen ($482 million). Some funding will come from Cool Japan Fund, an entity run by the government and private sector to assist industries that promote Japanese culture.

     Details such as store sizes have yet to be disclosed, but the idea is to create a shopping mall where customers can experience Japan, including Japanese apparel shops and anime.

     To help get the business on track quickly, the shopping center will be developed with Shanshan Group, a Chinese apparel company in which Itochu has a stake. Shanshan also develops commercial facilities, such as outlet malls, with Itochu and Mitsui Fudosan.