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Worldview: Why Japan’s Sogo & Seibu Department Store Employees Went on Strike

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also reveals the succession plan for an Indian retail billionaire, Kenya’s strategy to revitalise its textile industry and forced labour in Turkmenistan’s cotton harvest.
Union members participate in a strike outside a temporarily closed Seibu department store in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug. 31, 2023.
Union members participate in a strike outside a temporarily closed Seibu department store in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug. 31, 2023. (Getty Images)

🇯🇵 Japan’s Sogo & Seibu department store group employees go on strike. The rare move by the labour union representing workers of the two department store chains in the group is seen as a protest over the planned sale of the company by Tokyo-based parent Seven & I Holdings to New York-based Fortress Investment Group. Talks with management broke down over job and business continuity guarantees and concerns that new plans would cheapen the upmarket retailer’s image. [Japan Times, Reuters]

🇮🇳 Isha Ambani to become board director of India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. In what is seen as an early phase of the succession plan for chairman Mukesh Ambani, his three children Isha, Akash and Anante will join the board once approval from shareholders has been granted at the conglomerate spanning everything from telecoms and energy to retail and textiles. Daughter Isha currently oversees expansion of the group’s retail business and is a director on the board of the retail unit, Reliance Retail Ventures, which houses the group’s brick-and-mortar and e-commerce investments. [Reuters]

🇹🇲 Turkmenistan officials force state workers to harvest cotton. Thousands of teachers, healthcare workers and other civil servants in Lebap Province have reportedly been conscripted to help achieve the Central Asian nation’s goal of harvesting 1.25 million tonnes of cotton this year, despite criticism from international workers’ rights organisations and stakeholders such as the 140 international brands and retailers that have signed a pledge committed to boycotting cotton from the world’s 10th-largest producer of the fibre while forced labour is in use. [Radio Free Europe, Sourcing Journal]

🇰🇪 Kenya plans to use Bt cotton to help revitalise its textile and apparel industry. A ministry of agriculture and livestock development official representing the government of the east African nation said it is improving access to seeds of the cotton variety, a genetically modified plant that is resistant to a key pest, despite anti-GMO activism in some quarters. [Fibre2Fashion]

🇦🇪 Dubai luxury property developer Damac opens a new neighbourhood mall. Smaller format community malls like the namesake Damac Mall in the Damac Hills district of the Middle Eastern shopping hub are becoming increasingly common as residents embrace more local, low-key shopping options for some of their retail, hospitality and entertainment needs. [Emirates 24/7]

🇨🇳 Shanghai-based Lanvin Group ekes out 6.4% revenue growth in first half. The company that rebranded from Fosun Fashion Group in 2021 saw revenue increase to €215 million ($235 million), dragged down by loss-making namesake brand Lanvin. The top line at Lanvin dipped 10.8 percent from a year ago, although other group brands fared better, with Wolford rising 8.4 percent, St. John up 11.3 percent, Sergio Rossi up 22.4 percent, and Caruso up 33.6 percent. [BoF]

🇯🇵 Japan’s Uniqlo appoints new president in renewed overseas push. Parent company Fast Retailing said Daisuke Tsukagoshi, who oversaw the successful turn-around of the brand’s North American business, has assumed the role. Current president Tadashi Yanai has taken on the CEO position, in addition to his roles as brand chairman and group chairman and president. [Nikkei Asia]

🇭🇺 Hungary’s fashion week event moves to strengthen its regional position. The Budapest Central European Fashion Week included Ukrainian, Romanian, Czech, Polish, Slovak and Serbian designers in its latest showcase which ran from Aug. 28 to Sep. 3 in a bid to “expand industry players’ trade relations and widen their international visibility,” said Zsofia Jakab, the Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency’s CEO. [BoF Inbox,]

🇧🇷 Brazilian pop star Anitta is Levi’s latest 501 campaign model. The funk carioca singer, who was also recently announced as a campaign model and partner for Rihanna’s fashion lingerie brand Savage x Fenty, appears in several looks for the American denim giant’s campaign celebrating the 150th anniversary of the iconic jeans style. [Billboard]

🇮🇳 India’s Gokaldas Exports to buy Dubai-based garment manufacturer Atraco. Through its wholly owned subsidiaries, the Bengaluru-based company employing over 32,000 people across twenty production units announced that it has entered into a deal to buy the Emirati firm which reportedly has a strong client base in the US and Europe. According to local media, the equity value of the transaction is $55 million. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Temu-owner PDD soars after strong sales defy Chinese gloom. The e-commerce company behind hit the shopping app reported revenue of 52.3 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) in the June quarter, beating the average analyst’s estimate of 43.3 billion yuan. Net income increased a faster-than-projected 47 percent, amounting to growth that surpassed its Chinese competitors Alibaba Group and [BoF]

🇯🇵 Tokyo fashion week showcases brands from the Philippines. Running from Aug. 28 to Sep. 2, the Spring/Summer 2024 edition of Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo was bookended by Japanese brands like Kanako Sakai (the FW Next Brand Award grand prize winner) and iconic streetwear label A Bathing Ape but it also included a Filipino designer runway showcase dubbed PH Mode X TYO by Manila Fashion Festival. [BoF Inbox, Fashion Network)

🇧🇩 Human rights consortium seeks minimum wage hike for Bangladesh garment workers. Amfiori, the Ethical Trading Initiative, the Fair Labor Association and the Fair Wear Foundation have joined forces with Mondiaal FNV to solicit the country’s minimum wage board to increase floor pay for workers in the ready-made garment sector, which they say is “well below” the rising cost of living there. [Sourcing Journal]

🇹🇷 Turkey’s apparel exports decline 3.38 percent in the Jan. to Jul. 2023 period. Exports worth $10.947 billion during the period represented a year on year decline due to a more pronounced fall in the knitted and crocheted clothing category than in non-knitted apparel. [Fibre2Fashion]

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