• Kyodo


Matsuzakaya, the oldest department store in Tokyo’s famous Ginza shopping district, closed Sunday for a total makeover and will reopen as a large commercial complex in four years.

Under a block-wide redevelopment project, the venerable 88-year-old, seven-story department store will be replaced in fiscal 2017 by a 13-floor high-rise with six basement floors and office space, operator J. Front Retailing Co. said.

Matsuzakaya Ginza opened in 1924, a year after the deadly Great Kanto Earthquake devastated the capital and its vicinity. Since then, it had been at the forefront of Japan’s fashion industry until the “fast fashion” craze hit at the turn of the century. Fast fashion retailers are increasingly opening major outlets in the traditionally upscale district.

Matsuzakaya hopes the Ginza store’s transformation will leave it perched atop Ginza not only in size, but also in sales and traffic, said Takahiro Komura, the official in charge of sales promotion.

Propelled by its closeout sale, the store saw sales from March to May double compared with the same period last year, led by such luxury items as artwork and watches.

While Matsuzakaya’s clerks have been guiding customers to other J. Front Retailing brands in Tokyo, such as Matsuzakaya’s Ueno branch and Daimaru Tokyo, its absence is likely to give its traditional rivals and the fast fashion invaders, such as Uniqlo, H&M and Zara, a chance to build their advantage.

Among Matsuzakaya’s traditional rivals, Mitsukoshi is enjoying higher traffic and sales since renovating its Ginza store in 2010.

Matsuya meanwhile is meanwhile aiming to capture new customers by approaching small and midsize companies for the summer gift-giving season at Matsuya Ginza.

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