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Business trends

Tsutaya, Japan's biggest bookstore chain, bets on China growth

Retailer confronts digital era by offering experiences and 'lifestyle suggestions'

Japan's Tsutaya Books has expanded over the last decade, establishing itself as a venue where people can hang out. Now the company is looking to China for new growth opportunities.  (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO/HANGZHOU -- In a commercial center the size of New York City's Grand Central Station, Japan's latest assault on the vast Chinese consumer market is a consciously chic bookstore scattered with sofas and works of art.

Tsutaya Books opened at the Tianmuli, or Maison Moree, mall in Hangzhou, an hour from Shanghai, in October, crammed with the refined touches that have made the chain a favorite in its home country -- plenty of sofas and chairs to encourage customers to have a leisurely browse among its books, magazines and other knickknacks.

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