Major Swiss retailer hopes food, cosmetics make big splash in Japan

Kyodo

A Swiss retailing giant has set an ambitious target for food and cosmetics sales in the Japanese market, where Switzerland has a generally positive image, and is shooting for a 10-fold increase by the end of the decade.

David Chalk, managing director of M-Industry Japan K.K., the Japanese unit of a supplier from the Migros group, one of Switzerland’s biggest retailers and supermarket chains, says Japanese sales of Swiss food are expected to reach ¥200 million ($1.67 million) this year.

“In four to five years, we aim to achieve sales of ¥2 billion. Buyers at supermarkets in Japan value our items as they do not have many Swiss products now,” Chalk said in a recent interview.

Established last November, M-Industry Japan recently launched sales of precooked traditional rosti hash browns to augment its lineup of coffee capsules, biscuits, jams and iced tea. Later this month, it will introduce anti-aging skin-care products.

Japan is M-Industry’s first Asian foothold in a sales network spanning about 50 countries. So far, its food items have largely been sold online or at upscale supermarkets such as Seijo Ishii. Their packages often bear images of the Swiss flag and mountains to lend a premium feel to the products, which are priced relatively higher than domestic items.

“We’ve had good reactions at tasting events and are confident that our products strike a balance between quality and prices,” Chalk said.

In the cosmetics field, the company sees growth potential in Japan’s graying society. Its products feature apple stem cell extracts intended to slow the aging process. The items, already popular in Europe, will hit shelves at supermarkets run by Aeon Co. on Tuesday.