Is Walmart in Japan? (2022 Facts)
Is Walmart in Japan? The company operates under the name Walmart in the United States and Canada. It operates as Walmart de México y Centroamérica in Mexico and Central America, as Asda in the United Kingdom, as the Seiyu Group in Japan, and as Best Price in India. It has wholly owned operations in Argentina (91%), Chile (99%), Canada (100%), and South Africa (100%). Since August 2018, Walmart has only held a minority stake in Walmart Brasil, with 20% of the company's shares, and private equity firm Advent International holds 80% ownership of the company.
Is Walmart in Japan?
Although Walmart no longer has a majority stake in Sieyu, the chain remains an important part of Walmart’s strategy in Japan. Walmart first entered the Japanese market in 2002 with the purchase of a 6.1 percent stake in Seiyu, then a struggling supermarket chain. By investing in Sieyu, Walmart was able to gain a foothold in the Japanese retail market and learn about the preferences of Japanese consumers. In recent years, however, Walmart has faced stiff competition from both domestic and foreign retailers, leading to declining sales at Sieyu.
In response, Walmart has been partnering with Rakuten, the largest eCommerce company in Japan, to reach more consumers online. The partnership has been successful so far, and Rakuten announced plans to launch a joint venture with Walmart in 2020. This new venture will allow Rakuten and Walmart to offer customers a wider range of products and services.
Thus, although Walmart is no longer the majority shareholder in Sieyu, it remains firmly committed to the Japanese market. Through its partnership with Rakuten, Walmart is able to offer consumers more choice and convenience than ever before. With its deep understanding of the Japanese market and its strong relationship with Rakuten, Walmart is poised to continue its success in Japan for years.
How many Walmarts are in Japan?
Walmart is a household name in America, but the company has had a more difficult time making inroads in Japan. Walmart doesn’t have any actual store-brand locations in Japan; instead, Walmart owned and operated the established Japanese Seiyu grocery stores. According to Bridget Goldschmidt of ProgressiveGrocer.com, there are about 300 Seiyu locations all throughout Japan.
These include a dozen or so clustered in and around Tokyo, as well as locations near Nagano, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nagasaki. However, Walmart has been gradually pulling back its investment in Seiyu; in 2008, Walmart sold a majority stake in the company to Japanese retail conglomerate Mitsubishi. As of 2018, Walmart only owns about a quarter of Seiyu. Given the challenges that Walmart has faced in Japan, it’s unlikely that we’ll see many (if any) Walmart stores popping up in the Land of the Rising Sun anytime soon.
What is Seiyu?
Seiyu is the name of the Japanese grocery chain that Walmart took full ownership of in 2008. Seiyu provides an array of services including groceries, clothes, home goods, and more. They even have a digital presence where consumers can order online and have their purchases delivered to them. Walmart began its acquisition in 2002 when it purchased a 37 percent stake in the company.
Three years later, Walmart got its hands on a majority stake. And three years after that, a mere six years after its initial investment, Walmart became the sole owner, absorbing Seiyu into its family of holdings.
There are three types of Seiyu stores: Seiyu Supermarkets, which are more like Walmart Neighborhood Markets; Sei-An Shops, which are concise grocery stores typically located near train stations; and lastly GMS (Grocery Merchandise Store), which is Seiyu's largest format and offers a one-stop shopping experience for customers. Seiyu continues to grow in size and popularity throughout Japan and with Walmart's backing, it shows no signs of slowing down.
What problems did Walmart encounter in Japan?
When Walmart announced they were giving up 85 percent of its shares, it came after years of slogging through the Japanese retail market with little to show. That same market has sent other retailers running, tails tucked: the French Carrefour and Alliance Boots from the UK. So why is it so tough to make it in Japan?
Walmart’s strategy of selling goods at steeply discounted prices ran up against the Japanese distaste for products perceived as “cheap.” While that attitude might be unbending somewhat, it didn’t occur quickly enough to make much difference for Walmart.
In addition, the company faced other challenges such as a lack of understanding of the Japanese market, cultural differences, and strong competition. These factors made it difficult for Walmart to succeed in Japan and ultimately led to their decision to exit the market.
Is Rakuten part of Walmart?
No, Rakuten is not part of Walmart. Rakuten is a Japanese conglomerate and electronic commerce company, while Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. However, Rakuten was and remains a joint stakeholder and business partner with Walmart.
Rakuten actually bought a 20 percent stake in Seiyu (Walmart will retain a 15 percent share) when Walmart divested itself of most shares. And Walmart teamed up with Rakuten in 2018, when they jointly launched an online store called the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store.
The concept was an eCommerce platform, selling American goods, where Walmart fulfills the orders. Rakuten and Walmart teamed up to deliver online groceries and e-readers/ebooks/audiobooks, Similarly, as Amazon. While Rakuten isn't technically a part of Walmart, the two companies are strong partners.
Walmart's presence in Japan has been relatively unsuccessful when compared to its performance in other countries. There are a few reasons for this, the biggest being cultural differences. Japan has always been a very insular country and only recently began to open its doors to outside influence. As such, many of the traditions and norms that Walmart is used to do not exist in Japan.
In addition, Japanese people are very loyal to local brands and businesses, making it difficult for Walmart to gain a foothold in the market. However, Walmart has formed a close partnership with Rakuten, Japan's largest online retailer, which should help them to better compete in the future. Only time will tell if this will be enough to make Walmart successful in Japan.
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