TOKYO – Japanese clothing maker Japan Imagination will close all core brand outlets, Cecil McBee, which the Nikkei has studied.
This brand primarily targets young people in their teens and twenties, and has gained popularity since the 1990s. But sales have tended to fall since peaking in 2007. The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also accelerated brand declines.
The company will close all 43 Cecil McBee stores throughout Japan in February 2021, with branches at the Shibuya hotspot scheduled to close in November.
Japan Imagination will also end several other brands and close 92 stores – almost 90% of their locations – and lay off most of their 570 employees.
Cecil McBee was launched in the 1980s and gained a large following among young people. Its main shop in the popular Shibuya shopping tower recorded monthly sales of around 100 million yen ($ 932,000) during its peak.
But the brand began to be defeated by Forever 21, H&M and other newcomers, falling into red in fiscal 2020 with sales of 12.1 billion yen, about half of what was previously high.
The pandemic was the latest blow to the brand, because stores in many parts of Japan were closed for more than two months to curb transmission. Although the store reopened in mid-May, there is growing concern over a second wave of infections.
The company decided to close the Cecil McBee outlet because it was not possible to cover costs if retail stores were asked to close again. However, the brand will still be available online.