Sweden’s H&M opens its first outlet in Chubu

Kyodo

Swedish casual wear operator H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB on Saturday opened its first outlet in the Chubu region, at a department store in Nagoya.

The new outlet at the Matsuzakaya department store has a total retail space of 3,200 sq. meters, making it one H&M’s largest stores in Japan, and occupies an entire basement level and part of the ground floor.

It is H&M’s 19th outlet in Japan and its first inside a department store. Most of the popular chain’s outlets are in the Kanto region.

H&M has said it will open a second outlet in Chubu in September, at a shopping mall in Motosu, Gifu Prefecture.

The chain’s casual wear is popular among young shoppers due to its “fast fashion” brand, which offers trendy but affordable clothing.

H&M opened its first store in Japan in 2008, in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district.

Danone eyes more Yakult

Kyodo

French food giant Danone might increase its stake in Yakult Honsha Co., Japan’s leading maker of lactic drinks, to 28 percent from the current 20 percent, sources said Saturday.

Yakult’s biggest shareholder had proposed buying a 35 percent stake in initial talks but lowered its target to 28 percent after the drink maker rejected the plan, the sources said, adding that Danone is also looking to send one of its executives to the company.

But the talks aren’t making much headway because Yakult is concerned Danone will gain too much influence over its operations, the sources said.

The two companies previously signed an agreement to limit Danone’s stake to 20 percent, but the deal expires in May and the French food maker is moving to raise its stake.

If the talks break down, Danone may launch a tender offer to boost its stake to about 35 percent, which would allow it to vote down major proposals at Yakult shareholders’ meetings, the sources said.

Danone first bought into Yakult in 2000.