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Shiseido has something for Asia's sweet tooth

Pricey cosmetics brand seeks sugary synergies

TOKYO -- Since it opened 115 years ago, Shiseido Parlour has been something of a landmark in the Japanese capital's prestigious Ginza district. Now, the restaurants and sweets side business of cosmetics maker Shiseido is looking to expand its presence in other parts of Asia.  

The company -- which runs 15 restaurants and cafes and sells original sweets at 60 locations in Japan -- is now selecting a location in Bangkok for a new confectionery shop, which is expected to open sometime next year. It will be second Shiseido Parlour abroad.

The new shop will likely carry the brand's popular cheesecakes and signature biscuits, stamped with the hana tsubaki, or camellia flower, logo.

Shiseido began selling cosmetics in Thailand in the 1960s, initially through Thai agencies. The brand's established status "will help the sweets shop lure middle-class earners and travelers in Thailand who are familiar with our cosmetics," said Naoki Hashimoto, a Shiseido Parlour executive.

It is also expected to draw Japanese expats.

Shiseido Parlour opened its first overseas location last August, in the Singapore Takashimaya department store. The shop targets wealthy Singaporeans. Products range in price from 8 Singapore dollars to S$60 ($5.77-$43.44). They are almost two times more expensive than in Japan. Japanese customers account for only 20% or so of the shop's sales.

In the fall, Shiseido Parlour also began selling sweets in Malaysia, through the Kuala Lumpur Isetan department store.

This Shiseido Parlour opened in the Singapore Takashimaya department store last year.

Shiseido is pushing to globalize the entire group under CEO Masahiko Uotani's Vision 2020 midterm business plan.

Shiseido Parlour began in a corner of a drugstore operated by the cosmetics maker. It was the first place in Japan to sell sodas. It also introduced ice cream and Western-style meals to Japanese people. More recently, it has tried to convey a luxurious, sophisticated lifestyle.

The group is counting on Shiseido Parlour to make it a comprehensive beauty business from the perspective of foods.

The unit itself expects to expand its overseas sales to 300 million yen ($2.68 million) by 2020.

To get there, it is also selling its sweets online. Last year, it began selling its confectioneries in Hong Kong and Singapore through the Rakuten shopping portal.

In December, Shiseido partnered with Tokyo-based Inagora, the operator of Wando, a Chinese e-commerce platform. 

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