Aeon is Japan's biggest retail group, with an extensive presence in the domestic market across several sectors, and a small footprint in several other Asia Pacific countries, most notably China. The group operates a total of around 17,000 stores in Japan, and another 4,400 in other Asian markets. It is best known for its Aeon-branded department stores and shopping malls, but other divisions include MaxValu supermarkets, Mini Stop convenience outlets, Welcia pharmacies, Aeon Big discounters as well as a collection of other speciality banners. Uniting these is the Aeon Card and Waon financial services division with more than 45m members, as well as the group's private label range TopValu, which covers multiple sectors including food, personal care products, household goods and even clothing. Its sales alone are around $11bn. Motoya Okada, a descendant of the company's founder, led the company for 23 years before passing on the role of president in 2020 to Akio Yoshida. Okada remains executive chairman. Combined revenues hit a new high (for Aeon and also for any Japanese retailer) of Y8.6 trillion in the year to Feb 2020, or approx $78.9bn, with net profits of $246m. However, growth has slowed significantly in recent years, not least as a result of competition from Amazon, Rakuten and other online merchants. Aeon lags behind even rival Japanese bricks and mortar retailers in online sales, which contributed only 1% of revenue in 2019. In 2020, the group forged a partnership with British group Ocado to begin offering grocery home delivery. Supermarkets alone contribute around 40% of revenues and department stores for 35%. Several subsidiary companies are themselves also publicly quoted in Japan, and that country still accounts for over 90% of sales. The group traces its roots back to the mid-18th century with the establishment of trading company Okadaya, which sold kimonos and other garments. More than 200 years later this merged with other regional retail businesses to form Jusco, which adopted the Aeon name in 1989. It has built its presence since then through the selective acquisitions of smaller or struggling rivals.
Capsule checked 18th November 2020
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