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Since then, IKEA Japan has opened eight stores across the country including those in regional cities, and announced its plan to have 14 stores by IKEA Japan has been actively expanding its store network by forming strong relationships with local communities. Ikea in Japan opened the first store in in Funabashi City, Chiba, and since then, the company has opened stores not only in the Kanto region, but also in regional cities, emphasizing good relationships with local communities.
The company has announced its plan to have 14 stores in Japan by and been actively expanding its store network. Our strength is very much about our vision. That is also our culture and values. In this region, the ethics of work, the togetherness and the passion to achieve something were very strong and everybody worked together and worked very hard towards a common goal of helping that village grow and develop.
Benefits in operating business in Japan? Japan is the second biggest retail market in the world. It also has the third largest GDP in the world. These two factors alone make it very appealing. Also, there is very high literacy level in Japan as well. In addition, many people live in small spaces in Japan and we have a lot of business experiences for areas with small space living like Japan, for example, New York, Paris, London, and so we have opportunities to apply that know-how that we acquired in other countries into Japan.
The Japanese consumers value service, so we had to think about how we offer low-priced products to them but at the same time, how we also add service. We introduced this service because many people come by public transport to an Ikea store. We really tailored that to the Japanese consumers who come to an Ikea store by train or bus, and that actually now has been copied around the world.
Another one is that we have unique Ikea products relevant in the Japanese market. For example, we used to make our sofas in the same size around the world, but we made them smaller so that they fit life at home in Japan. I have visited homes across Japan so that we can develop our product range that is unique but relevant for Japan, based on their life styles and opinions.
Not only sofas but also chopsticks and firmer mattresses, and cooling products developed in Japan are sold around the world. The Japanese market plays an important role in growing Ikea globally.
Any difficulties you had when entering the Japanese market? When entering the Japanese market, we have issues such as restrictions on the acquisition of land for large-scale retail stores, regulations on product certification and labeling introduced only in Japan, and restrictions on the importation of food products that we offer at our restaurants.
If we can see more mutual recognition and relaxation of regulations in the future, that would bring a great benefit not only to the company, but also to the Japanese consumers. Reasons for and benefits of opening stores in regional cities? In order to create a better everyday life for the many people, we have opened our stores across Japan.
We are very careful where we place our stores. Regarding IKEA Fukuoka Shingu, we selected the place which is next to a train station and we could also have lots of parking spaces.
They eat in a restaurant and just maybe they might buy something small to take home with them.
We are planning to open more stores in the regional markets such as Hiroshima and Maebashi in Gunma. We also place importance on the Nagoya suburbs, which is one of the mega markets, and are developing a plan to open our first store in the Chubu region.
Did you ask the authorities for help when opening stores in regional cities? We want to build a relationship with the local community, and that is not only when we open a new store. Opening a new store creates a lot of visitation and traffic, so working in harmony with the local community as well as the authorities is important.
When building a relationship, we explain what Ikea is and make sure that any concerns from the community are listened to so we are a true neighbor and a good partner, which takes a long time.
We actually are very lucky. But our business model is a store of 20, square meters plus. So we need a big piece of land, and then also we need a lot of people to live in the area to bring an Ikea store there, so it takes time to make a decision.
On the other hand, I feel very lucky that our vision and our business idea is something they want in their areas, and we have lots of good relationships with the authorities in areas where we have already opened a store, as well as with those in areas where we are planning to move into.
Any plans for future business development? Ikea wants to become accessible for many people, and today, we have eight stores across Japan, but we would like to have 14 stores by We created AMZShark to be the leading toolkit for Retailers and Brand Owners on Amazon.
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