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Nisshinbo to buy Japan's largest shirt retailer

Tokyoshirts's affordable offerings are popular among young consumers.

TOKYO -- Nisshinbo Holdings will buy Tokyoshirts, Japan's largest manufacturer-retailer of men's shirts, for several billion yen in a push to capitalize on growing demand for high-function apparel.

     Nisshinbo plans to acquire all outstanding shares in Tokyoshirts from founding family members and others as early as this spring and make it a wholly owned subsidiary.

     Tokyoshirts operates about 200 retail outlets. Annual sales total 12 billion yen ($99.9 million). Nisshinbo, founded as a cotton spinner in 1907, is a diversified company, with textiles generating annual sales of 54.5 billion yen, or 10% of overall sales. Automobile brake material and electronics account for roughly 70% of sales.

     As a textile manufacturer, Nisshinbo aims to work with Tokyoshirts to develop high-function fabric, a fast-growing market. Tokyoshirts' up-to-date market data can help Nisshinbo develop, for example, wrinkle-free fabric for domestic and overseas demand.

     Nisshinbo plans to make Tokyoshirts the pillar of the consumer product division while trying to shore up its textile business. Earlier, the Tokyo-based company sought to collaborate with Choya, a long-struggling shirt manufacturer, which it ended up selling last year. Unlike Choya, which sold shirts at department stores, Tokyoshirts draws interest from young consumers with affordable shirts priced at 3,300 yen or so.

     Textile manufacturers are increasingly teaming with specialty retailers to create new fabric. Toray partners with Uniqlo, with their transactions estimated to reach 400 billion yen in the five years through 2015. Teijin collaborates with furniture retailer Nitori Holdings to develop high-function bedding.


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