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The World's Top Fashion Specialty Store Barneys New York to Boost its Value by Driving Multichannel Retail Strategy

June 2012

Sumitomo Corporation roll outs the brand nationwide

Barneys New York has grabbed the hearts of style-savvy men and women by delivering a unique collection of the latest fashions, providing elegant space with exquisite displays and decorations and offering professional customer service provided by sales clerk, which all combine to create the brand's compellingly special, luxurious taste and unrivaled quality. One key aspect of the specialty store's distinguished quality is its sophisticated customer attendance offered by "selling supervisors," Barneys store staff members who have acquired extensive knowledge of style to provide accurate and inspiring advice to customers in helping them select appropriate items to achieve their desired look in combination with other fashion elements.

Barneys New York, Inc. was founded in New York City in 1923. The brand was imported to Japan in 1989 when Barneys Japan Co., Ltd. was established under a license agreement, and the country's first shop opened in Shinjuku in 1990. Sumitomo Corporation acquired shares of Barneys Japan in 2006 jointly with a Japanese fund. Since then, Sumitomo Corporation has proactively implemented measures to expand the business of the specialty store, primarily through its opening of two flagship stores in Kobe (2010) and Fukuoka (2011) in addition to the three existing stores in and around Tokyo, including Yokohama (1993), Ginza(2004) and Shinjuku. Sumitomo Corporation also helped the brand to increase its sales channels, including outlet stores and e-commerce, thereby rolling out the brand nationwide.

Barneys New York Fukuoka Store opens on a street lined with large department stores buildings and shopping malls at the center of the Tenjin area, the city's established shopping district.

Unique specialty store brand

Barneys New York is a large-scale specialty store chain that offers an assortment of the latest styles of multiple high-end fashion labels. The store is similar to upscale department stores with respect to product quality and volume and sales area (around 3,300 square meters). What differentiates Barneys from other retailers such as department stores and concept shops, however, is its carefully selected items, all of which faithfully represent brand value and concept. Every detail related to the brand is designed to create "Barneys Air," a term used to refer to the brand's unique quality, focusing on "Taste, Luxury, Humor," which has helped the specialty store become established as one of the world's top fashion retailers.

An example of the distinguished shop settings designed to accentuate Barneys' premium taste are the special attendants that are deployed at the entrance of the stores to welcome customers. Around two decades ago when the first store opened in Shinjuku, this form of customer attendance attracted a great deal of attention, as it was the first time in the country that such a greeting was made in retail stores. With this and other ingenious efforts made since then, Barneys New York has won over the hearts and minds of a slew of fashion-conscious people all over Japan and produced legions of eager Barneys fans.

A "selling supervisor" makes a proposal on a selection that suits individual customers.

Promoting multichannel retail strategy to maximize purchase opportunities

Sumitomo Corporation has developed the retail business for decades, building up its know-how and track record in this sector, mainly by operating the Summit supermarket and Tomod's drugstore chains. The company has also worked for years to develop its high-fashion-brand retail business in Japan, by importing and distributing US-based luxury brands. Utilizing its strong retail sector expertise in combination with the business platform functions of the Sumitomo Corporation Group including media, IT, and logistics, among others, the company is developing its multi-channel retail strategy.

This strategy aims to address increasingly diverse consumer spending patterns by offering multiple sales channels, including television, mail-order and e-commerce, as well as brick-and-mortar stores. This is intended to create a multi-channel purchase opportunities that will, for example, allow customers to take an interest in a fashion brand in an outlet mall and follow up later with a visit to that same brand's flagship store, or by placing an order at the brand's online store.

The Barneys New York project is a pivotal business for promoting the multichannel retail approach. We expect that the solid brand presence of the Barneys New York fostered mainly by flagship operations will effectively create synergy when combined with other channels, and even help create favorable effects on the expansion of other brands launched by Sumitomo Corporation. By strategically connecting outlet stores, the online store and the five flagship stores, we will work to further increase Barneys clientele base.

A webpage of the Barneys New York online store operated in Japan

Seeking to attract new Barneys fans

Barneys Japan is planning to take a new step toward further growth by developing a smaller boutique that focuses on casual fashion labels in order to accommodate the rapidly growing casual fashion market. With the addition of this new business format, while at the same time maintaining the quality offerings that range from selected products, detailed displays and customer service, to premium space and extensive professional advice on fashion, and even lifestyles, Barneys New York will endeavor to continue being a trend-setting specialty store that attracts new Barneys-lovers from all walks of life.

Barneys New York Fukuoka Store, where every detail in decoration and service is designed to represent the brand concept

Related Tag

  • Media, Network, Lifestyle Related Goods & Services
  • Japan
  • Retail & Service Operations

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