7 June 2019

Tokyo, 7 June 2019 - The 6th World Department Store Forum (WDSF) was staged on 6-7 June 2019 in Tokyo, organised by the Intercontinental Group of Department Stores, the Japan Department Stores Association and J. Front Retailing. More than 340 top executives from 36 countries gathered to discuss the most important industry issues, including the role of department stores in city centres and megacities.
During the two-day Forum, 20 world-class leaders and experts revealed their views on the rising trends of urbanisation and why cities have become the power centres for brick-and-mortar retailing, with some megacities having larger economies than several countries combined. Customer behaviour and expectations were also analysed, as well as the critical role of building unique in-store experiences to ensure industry success.

Paolo de Cesare, IGDS President, Chairman & CEO of Printemps in France, opened WDSF 2019 and welcomed on stage Ken Akamatsu, Chairman of Japan Department Stores Association & Chairman of Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings in Japan, and Tatsuya Yoshimoto, President of Daimaru-Matsuzakaya in Japan, to represent the two other WDSF 2019 organisers.

In the first session, 'The Cities of Tomorrow', Naomi Yamakawa & Jean-Baptiste Coumau, Partners at McKinsey & Co in Japan, explained that retailers and brands needed to take a granular city-based view to set their future strategies, while using analytics in assortment and floor planning. Naoya Araki, President of Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores in Japan, detailed the initiatives and new concepts his company implemented to become the most entertaining department store in the world, managing more than 160 events per year.

The second session, 'Customers' Lives', analysed ever-evolving customer behaviour and expectations. Two directors from Japan's Nomura Research Institute, Motoko Matsushita & Hiroyuki Takagi, presented the results of their '10,000 consumer survey', which has been conducted every three years since 1997. It has highlighted the change values and behaviour of Japanese consumers and the implications for department stores and retailers. Motoi Oyama, Chairman & CEO, Representative Director of Asics in Japan, explained how the brand reset in 2012, while detailing its store strategy and the success of the Onitsuka Tiger Business in Europe.

Marco Bizzarri, President & CEO of Gucci, Italy, and Dr Robert Campbell, Director-General of the National Institute of Japanese Literature, took to the stage to share their views on why retailers should focus on cities rather than countries and build a culture of joy and passion.

During the first day's final session, 'Service and Hospitality', Peter Camille Borer, COO of The Peninsula Hotels in Hong Kong, shared his company's passion for excellence and the importance of personalised products and services, and of meaningful connections with guests. Mario Grauso, President of Holt Renfrew in Canada, concluded the first day by showcasing how the company has been redefining luxury by being reflective of the history and culture of the cities where it trades and by building on its personalised shopping service.

The second day started with a powerful statement from Doug Stephens, Retail Futurist of Retail Prophet, Canada, on how every aspect of the department store experience, including the core economic model for revenue and profit, will be completely reimagined for a new age.

In session four 'Sustainability, Building a Community', Yuwadee Chirathivat, Chairwoman of Central Department Store, Thailand; Laura Puricelli, Director at PwC, Italy; Kei Suzuki, Director & Executive Officer of MUJI/ Ryohin Keikaku, Japan, and Tatsuya Yoshimoto, President of Daimaru-Matsuzakaya, Japan, presented their companies' strategies for a more sustainable environment. The session was moderated by Yuki Isogai, Partner at PwC, Japan.
The following session, 'Footfall & Traffic to Department Stores', was launched by Greg Gelhaus, Head of Asia Pacific of Global Blue, Singapore. He analysed international shopper sales in European and Asian department stores and explained how firms could enhance these visitors' shopping experiences. Astrid Klein & Mark Dytham, Founders/Architects of Klein Dytham Architecture, Japan, presented some of their recent projects, including the new successful concept for bookstore Tsutaya and described how retail has to be a big part of life and not just a transactional shopping moment.

In session five, 'Town Square Strategies', Ian Moir, CEO of David Jones in Australia, explained how through renovation and innovation, with a AS$400 million investment, David Jones will continue to be Australia's premium lifestyle retail destination. Masao Ariga, President of Herm├Ęs Japon, delivered an inspiring presentation on the importance of empathetic (Kizuna), sincere, ethical and fundamental values for a unique in-store experience and a great company culture. Vittorio Radice, Vice Chairman of Rinascente Group in Italy, closed the session by underlining the need for department stores to focus on urbanism, aging populations and tourism in order to succeed.

Paolo de Cesare concluded the Forum by thanking the speakers, sponsors and organisers: IGDS, the Japan Department Store Association and J. Front Retailing. He invited Pete Nordstrom to announce the next Global Department Store Summit (GDSS) which would take place on 28-29 May 2020 in Seattle, USA, organised by IGDS and Nordstrom.