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Japan’s H2O Retailing to Open Department Store in China

Buildings along the Yong River in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China. Shutterstock.
Buildings along the Yong River in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China. Shutterstock.

The owner and operator of Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores will partner with Shanshan Group to unveil a luxury shopping destination in Ningbo, China next month, local media outlet Jiemian reports.

The store will be H2O Retailing’s first venture outside Japan and span 230,000 square meters. It was slated to open in 2018, but was delayed thrice by complications relating to renovations and the pandemic. The location will house luxury fashion boutiques— including Jimmy Choo, Celine and Moncler’s first outposts in Ningbo — alongside premium beauty stores and Michelin star restaurants.

Unlike Japanese rivals Isetan and Takashimaya, H2O Retailing has chosen not to break into the Chinese market through Shanghai — a decision reportedly due to fierce competition in top tier cities.

Where both Isetan and Takashimaya have struggled in a landscape dominated by homegrown retail groups, it remains unclear whether H2O Retailing’s local partner and choice of location will give it an edge. Isetan, which entered China in 1993, operates three department stores in the country but closed three branches before 2014. Despite going back on its announcement to withdraw from the market in 2019, Takashimaya, which opened in Shanghai in 2012, has seen sales slide.

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