The Top Japanese Retailers

Shop selling Edo Kiriko cut glass in Tokyo, Japan.
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Japanese companies took six spots in STORES magazine and Kantar Consulting's list of the Top 50 Global Retailers for 2019. The highest-ranked Japanese retailer was Seven & I Holdings, at No. 15, with 60,640 ranking points and international revenues of $18.53 billion. Seven & I owns the Seven-11 convenience store chain, York-Benimaru supermarkets, and Sogo and Seibu department stores, among other retail operations.

Ranking Methodology

In creating their ranking, Kantar and STORES, the magazine of the National Retail Federation, looked at both publicly traded and privately held companies that sold goods to consumers or ran restaurants. A company had to have operations in at least three countries, at least one of which could not be adjacent to the country in which the company was based. If a company was a franchisor, like Seven & I, it had to control the license to enable franchises in the majority of countries where they were granted. The research was conducted from October to December 2018 but focused on the companies' operations as of the beginning of that year.

The ranking wasn't based on total revenue; instead, it was an attempt to quantify which retailers were the most international. According to STORES, "the methodology uses a system in which points are given to retailers based on their international revenues, their participation in franchising and alliances outside of their local region, and their ability to sell via online marketplaces."

The researchers sought to minimize the impact of fluctuating currency exchange rates on financial results and of the standard consolidated revenue figures that can downplay the importance of joint ventures, franchises, and online marketplaces when it comes to gaining a foothold in a new territory.

Seven & I No. 2 in Asia

Seven & I had the most global locations of any company on the list. According to Seven & I, that figure was about 67,600 as of May 2018. It was also the second-ranked retailer in Asia, after Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding, which was No. 7, with 110,980 ranking points and international revenues of $7.88 billion.

The other Japanese companies in the ranking were:

No. 20: Aeon, with 47,511 ranking points and international revenues of $6.46 billion, operates general merchandise stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, drugstores, and other types of retailers.

No. 40: Fast Retailing, with 20,381 ranking points and international revenues of $7.97 billion, sells clothing and owns brands including Uniqlo, GU, Theory, PLST, and Comptoir des Cotonniers.

No. 44: FamilyMart UNY Holdings, with 13,384 ranking points and international revenues of $3.08 billion, operates and franchises FamilyMart convenience stores.

No. 48: Rakuten, with 7,894 ranking points and international revenues of $420 million, is a B2B2C company that enables merchants to sell their products to consumers. Its Rakuten Ichiba (Rakuten Marketplace) website is the largest e-commerce site in Japan.

No. 49: Yahoo Japan, with 6,833 ranking points and international revenues of $422 million, offers online shopping and auction sites as well as a video-on-demand service.