SINGAPORE - Mention Muji and one would immediately think of high-quality products with minimalist design.
Indeed, the name Muji is short for mujirushi ryohin - Japanese for no brand, quality goods.
As Muji opens its seventh store in Singapore today, My Paper catches up with Mr Tadamitsu Matsui, chairman and representative director of Muji store operator Ryohin Keikaku.
Why set up another outlet in Singapore?
It is part of our expansion plan. We have been consistently looking out for suitable store locations and 313@somerset has been deemed a suitable location, being situated in the middle of Orchard Road, which we feel has a lot of business potential.
The new outlet will see new store fixtures and furnishing - from a primarily wood concept to glass - as well as the introduction of a new Stamp Table (which would delight art-and-craft fans), that will be launched in the other outlets soon.
Are there other Asian countries that Muji has not yet expanded into?
It has been Muji's vision to have establishments all around the world. The next country that Muji would like to expand into is India, its market being large and vast with a population size of more than 1.21 billion people.
What are the challenges of entering new markets?
In a new market, it can be difficult for local staff to grasp the Muji concept, which still carries elements of Japanese aesthetics.
It takes time to train and educate local employees to fully understand the concept so that they are able to manage the operations.
Does Muji localise its products to cater to specific markets?
No, Muji is a global company that develops products for global use.
Muji's products are meant for urban living, and are developed based on different functionalities, such that everyone can use them, regardless of the city that one is in.
What trends do you see in the purchasing habits of Singaporeans? What type of products do we buy more or less of?
Our customers' purchases have been increasing at about 35 per cent, as compared to five years ago, and they are now spending on higher-priced items.
Singaporeans are generally well travelled, and with the brand's global presence, they have gained confidence in the quality of our products, and assurance in our prices.
The most sellable item has always been our made-in-Japan PP Storage Boxes. Customers find it stackable, packable, versatile and of good quality. There may not be other products with such good quality and flexibility in mixing and matching within our market.
Does Muji plan to open more stores here in the future?
Yes, of course. We are targeting for 12 stores by 2017.
How does the Singapore market compare with other markets worldwide, in terms of its receptive- ness to Muji's products?
The Singapore market is very strong, with gross-domestic-product growth being one of the highest in the world.
However, Muji Hong Kong has performed very well due to the influence from the high number of Hong Kong tourists to Japan. A key reason is that Muji in Hong Kong has a large flagship store and Muji Cafe and Meal, a self-service, dine-in casual cafe, which customers have been very receptive to.
We also have the intention to operate a large flagship store and introduce Muji Cafe and Meal in Singapore. We will soon identify a suitable location to establish the new concept.
Muji's latest outlet in Singapore, at 313@somerset (Level B2), opens today.
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