Japanese to try Boots for size

Boots the Chemists is to broaden its international portfolio with four new outlets in Japan. The first shop opens in Tokyo on 30 July and will be followed by three more later this year.

Fern Green has designed the new outlets, with an emphasis on interaction. Partner David Fern says: “We made the beauty areas more directed towards consultation as the Japanese like interacting with products and testing them out.”

The retailer has formed a partnership with the Mitsubishi Corporation. Boots holds a 51 per cent stake in the stores and Mitsubishi the remaining 49 per cent.

A Boots spokesman believes there is a huge Japanese market to exploit. “Japan has the second largest health and beauty market in the world and it is four times larger than the UK,” he says.

The Japanese stores, though based around the UK format, will have one key difference. “In Japan it is deemed rude to receive money from someone sitting down, so the tills will be operated standing up,” Thomas explains.

The decision to move into Japan follows successful trials in Holland and Thailand over the past two years. “We carried out 18-month trials with four shops in Holland and six in Thailand. Their success has resulted in 50 outlets currently being rolled out in each country as part of a four-year programme,” adds Thomas.

But he is realistic about Boots’ latest venture saying: “If the new outlets work, then great. But if they don’t then we are prepared to walk away.”

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