Say Who? Seibu lands in Indonesia - Tourism Indonesia


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Say Who? Seibu lands in Indonesia

By By Steve Kaufman (09-26-2007)

Americans who think of the Asian market as a monolith of cultures, religions, attitudes and retail brands need to be reminded that it takes as long to fly from Japan to Indonesia as it does to fly from Seattle to Tokyo.

So Seibu, the upscale Japanese department store chain known for beautiful in-store artwork and fresh, creative window campaigns, is a largely unknown brand in Indonesia. But when Seibu merged with rival Sogo Co. in 2003 to form Millennium Retailing, it inherited Sogo’s international licenses. And Sogo, a 177-year-old kimono merchant-turned-department store chain, has nine stores in Indonesia, including three in the teeming capital of Jakarta.

“Sogo is at the top of the market in Indonesia,” says Dawn Clark, principal at Callison, the Seattle-based architecture firm that built and designed Seibu’s new Jakarta flagship. “The stores are well-organized, efficient and orderly. But they’re a little too institutional, the lighting a little too bright, to have the richness and depth of Seibu stores. Sogo stores are the equivalent of our big-box retailing.”

But Seibu wanted to bring, well, Seibu, to Jakarta – the detail, elegance and femininity of the world’s fashion meccas. As the economic capital of the Indonesian archipelago of 234 million people, Jakarta has a growing cosmopolitan population, particularly people of Chinese descent but also those from India, Australia and the U.K. If the taste level is not yet haute couture, it’s at least well-traveled and cultivated. “If Seibu was going to build a flagship in Jakarta,” says Clark, who headed the project for Callison, “a rich and layered environment would be distinctly different from the other large stores in Jakarta, and distinctly Seibu. We wanted to celebrate the Japanese brand and the country’s retail sophistication.”


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