Japan News

How Abercrombie is failing in Japan

Excellent piece in BoF re: Abercrombie’s attempt to launch in Japan. Marx goes over all the key areas (so many!) where Abercrombie is failing in Japan.

TOKYO, Japan — After several years of “will they or won’t they” speculation, American casual fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch finally opened its first retail store in Japan this past December. The 11-story shop in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza neighbourhood is just steps away from Uniqlo’s flagship store and Swedish fast fashion brand H&M.

As with every big retail opening in Tokyo, the first day of sales saw long lines of customers and swift business. The rumoured haul: ¥50 million (or about $550,000). Even without the benefit of an opening party or major press event, Abercrombie was able to rely on a small group of Japanese fans who had previously bought the brand’s products as souvenirs on trips to Hawaii or the continental United States.

But the big question is, will Abercrombie be able to win over new fans in Japan and replicate the unbelievably successful Japanese market entries of other mass fashion brands?
So far, the signs do not look good.

The Business of Fashion | In Tokyo, Abercrombie Misses Its Mark

Blogs China News

Evan Osnos – Letter from China

If you’re not reading Evan Osnos’ “Letter from China” blog in the New Yorker, you should be.

For much of the past two decades, the obstacles facing foreign entrepreneurs have been structural: bureaucratic delays, restrictions on moving foreign currency, and so on. But in my conversations with foreign business people these days, the current malaise centers on a less concrete–and, thus, fixable–sense of obstruction. The concern these days is not about the vagaries of what was once called the Iron Rooster, but about the reality of a canny, powerful, well-equipped, urbane counterpart in the global economy, which is beginning to express its own beliefs about fair trade and free flow of information. That, I’m afraid, is a far more difficult gap to bridge.

Winter of Discontent in Beijing: Letter from China : The New Yorker

And the Time piece that is improperly linked to from Evan’s blog post is this one (also worth reading):

In my more than two decades in China, I have seldom seen the foreign business community more angry and disillusioned than it is today. Such sentiment goes beyond the Internet censorship and cyberspying that led to Google’s Jan. 12 threat to bail out of China, or the clash of values (freedom vs. control) implied by the Google case. It is about the perception that antiforeign attitudes and policies in China have been growing and hardening since the global economic crisis pushed the U.S. and Europe into a tailspin and launched China to its very uncomfortable stardom on the world stage.

The China Fix – TIME “The China Fix”

Japan News

Japan turning around?

Two unrelated news pieces from Business Week today caught my eye:
Japan Is Best Investment Idea for 2010, Wien Says

Japanese stocks may be the best bet among the world’s biggest markets in 2010 as the economy improves, according to Blackstone Group LP’s Byron Wien.
The Topix Index, which posted the lowest return among benchmark guagues in the 20 largest stock markets in 2009, has risen the most this year, gaining 4.1 percent. Companies are projected to turn profitable in 2010 after producing a combined loss of 40 yen per share in the past 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“I would definitely start buying now,” Wien, 76, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Services and the former chief market strategist for hedge fund Pequot Capital Management Inc., told Bloomberg Radio. “Everybody who could sell Japan has sold Japan. Everybody is on one side of the boat. My view is that we have a pretty good chance of having this one be the best of the major industrialized markets. It’s not a boom, but things are getting better.”

Then in a separate piece:
Ex-Morgan Stanley Trader Feldschuh Starting Japan Hedge Fund

Traders are opening funds after the industry posted its best returns in a decade last year, gaining 20 percent, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc. Assets may rise to $1.75 trillion by the end of 2010, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

Aristarc will invest in stocks using a market-neutral strategy that bets on, and against, companies in the same industry. Feldschuh’s strategy at FrontPoint returned 14 percent in 2008 and 19 percent in 2007, according to the marketing materials.

Let’s hope the Nikkei turns around this year. NO DOUBLE DIP!

China Internet News

Will China’s Great Firewall Hold?

One day before US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom, the New America Foundation has hosted a panel discussion on Chinese censorship of the Internet with Alex Ross of the State Department, Rebecca MacKinnon of the Open Society Institute, Tim Wu of Columbia University, and Evgeny Morozov of Georgetown University. The discussion was moderated by James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly.

Authority, Meet Technology: Will China’s Great Firewall Hold?

For those who prefer the audio, you can download the MP3 Recording of This Event.

Japan News

Richard Katz on Japanese debt

Richard Katz of The Oriental Economist provides a counter-argument to the mainstream worries about Japanese government debt. I’m leaning more towards Katz but am looking for more guidance.
Now Is Not the Time to Fret About Tokyo’s Debts