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The president of Marubeni Corp., a part of the consortium sponsoring the rebuilding of Daiei Inc., said the retailer’s reported withdrawal from Hokkaido is not a given.

It is “unlikely” Daiei’s signboards will completely disappear in Hokkaido, Nobuo Katsumata said in an interview Monday.

Katsumata also indicated the Marubeni-led consortium will give sufficient consideration to regional economies and employment in proceeding with its rehabilitation of Daiei, saying, “We have to prevent towns from perishing.”

Earlier this month, the state-backed Industrial Revitalization Corp. of Japan selected the consortium, which also includes investment fund Advantage Partners Inc., to sponsor the rehabilitation of the zombie supermarket chain.

IRCJ’s bailout plan calls for Daiei to close 53 stores, including two in Hokkaido.

Katsumata said the consortium will not make major changes to the plan in terms of closures. “Although it is Daiei that will make the decision, the 53 stores (under the IRCJ plan) form the base in any case.”

Katsumata indicated the rebuilt Daiei will focus on foods, departing from its unusual all-around approach to the supermarket business. “While earnings in the food business are favorable, profitability in other businesses is bleak.”

Reborn Daiei outlets may house both traditional supermarkets and specialty shops, he said.

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