[From August Issue 2014]
AEON Co., Ltd., known for its AEON logo, is one of Japan’s largest “incorporated retail groups.” Aeon means “eternal” in Latin. As of the end of February 2014, the total number of the group’s employees was about 400,000. With an operating income of 6,395.1 billion yen a year, AEON has been the country’s largest retail group for three consecutive years. Its private brand “Top Valu” carries more than 6,000 products and has sales totalling 741 billion yen a year.
The company’s core business is its hypermarket division which has some 610 stores both in and outside the country. Based in shopping centers, these stores sell basic necessities, including food and clothing. In addition to these, AEON also runs quite a few supermarkets and discount stores across the country. What’s drawing attention these days are its gigantic suburban shopping centers; there are 155 of these “AEON Malls” in and outside the country.
An AEON Mall has so many specialty shops that it resembles a small town. Young ladies with an eye for quality, who compare products from different specialist stores, are called “AEON girls.” Manufacturers of clothing and other sundries value the opinions of AEON girls since they have such a good sense of fashion.
Today’s AEON has the largest sales revenue in Japan, but its predecessor, Jusco, was created from a merger in 1969 of three mid-size provincial companies that were in the same business. Jusco itself grew gradually, collaborating and merging with all kinds of companies. It opened new stores not only in Japan, but eventually overseas as well. In 2001, the company name was changed to its current one: AEON Co., Ltd.
After becoming AEON group, the group focused its efforts on a tree planting campaign. Since 1991, it’s been implementing the “AEON – Creation of Hometown Forests” campaign in which local consumers plant trees around new malls. This activity reflects the company’s hope that newly created malls will be handy for locals as a place to gather and share a love of nature.
OKADA Takuya, the founder, appeals to those who’ve planted trees: “Please come back to the store to see how much the trees you planted have grown. Use that opportunity to do some shopping. And love this store forever.” The idea of forever informs their wish for eternity. The number of trees planted in and outside the country has exceeded ten million.
Group CEO OKADA Motoya says, “In whatever country or region we expand our business to, we always operate under the principle that the customer comes first. We cherish this philosophy and strive to keep innovating.” They aim to become a group that not only sells goods, but also supports people’s lives in general. That sentiment is firmly built into the AEON name.
Text: ITO Koichi