MUJI is poised for serious expansion as it launches hotels and more

6 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Features

Mujirushi Ryohin ($TYO:7453) launched a single store in Japan in 1980 with sparse branding, basic products, and affordable prices. Today, there are more than 1,000 MUJI stores worldwide, one hotel in Shenzhen, China and another two in the works, and even a real estate enterprise.

The MUJI brand is in a steady state of growth, leaning into a hip brand that has it in an enviable state of being recognized as a quality brand in the world's hippest locations, creating loyal fans that The New York Times once called "Mujirers". It tapped into a clear need from consumers: quality, well-designed products that aren't ostentacious, but at the same time are stylish, sustainable, and recognizable.

Ironically, the term "Mujiroshi Ruyohin" means "No Brand, Quality Goods."

This lack of brand... branding is working for Parent Company Ryohin Keikaku.

Here's a quick look at the current state - and a bit of the future - of MUJI.

Worldwide Store Expansion

Muji, as of today, has 1,017 stores worldwide. 465 of those stores are in Japan, with China claiming 239. In 1991, MUJI opened its first store outside of Japan in the United Kingdom. In 2007, MUJI opened its first US store in upscale SOHO. It was successful beyond expectation, and MUJI now has a US entity and 16 stores in the country.

Country

Store Count

Country

Store Count

Japan

465

Indonesia

8

China

239

Malaysia

7

Taiwan

50

United Arab Emirates

5

South Korea

31

Australia

4

United Kingdom

24

India

4

Hong Kong

24

Philippines

4

Italy

20

Kuwait

3

France

19

Saudi Arabia

3

Thailand

16

Qatar

2

United States

16

Bahrain

2

Sweden

16

Ireland

2

Singapore

14

Portugal

2

Germany

14

Poland

2

Spain

12

Turkey

1

Canada

8

Products

Muji started in the 1980s with extremely basic stationery and clothing. It quickly expanded to basic, convenient food items and stylish-but-simple appliances. It has also expanded into cafes (Café Muji), restaurants (Meal Muji), camping goods shops, florists, and home furnishings. In 1980, Muji had 40 products. Today, more than 7,000 SKUs line its shelves and e-commerce sites.

In 2001, Muji collaborated with Nissan to create a car called Muji Car 1000. It was, as per brand, badge-free, simple, only offered in white, and they only made 1,000 of them. It sold out.

Homes and Huts

Capitalizing on its fans' love of the minimalist aesthetic, Muji designed, renovaged and sold dozens of homes created in the brand's image. A Muji Home site lists multiple locations of various sizes and prices.

If that sounds too spendy, Muji also launched the Muji Hut, a super-small, ¥3,000,000 (around $28,000) hut that can be built just about anywhere.

Muji Hut

Expansion into Hotels

West Elm, the affordable furniture and houseware brand that has seen meteoric sales in the past decade, launched its first hotel last year. Betting on the notion that those who like its furnishing will want to stay among those furnishings when they travel, West Elm is now preparing to open its sixth hotel. 

Muji is getting in on the hospitality action as well. Its first Muji Hotel opened in Shenzhen, China in 2017, and another is slated to open this summer in Beijing. Another is slated to open in the high-end shopping and dining district of Ginza, Tokyo in Spring, 2019 - just in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Like its products, Muji promises a simple but quality experience at its hotels, explaining, "At MUJI HOTEL, there are neither exorbitantly priced and superfluent services nor dreary guest rooms resulting from the extreme reduction of quality."

That said, the hotel is already popular, and prices are trending above other hotels - at least for the as-of-now singular Shenzhen location. The Langhan, a 5-star hotel, can be booked for $127 a night this weekend. Compared to the Muji hotel at $170, it's not exactly not exhorbitantly priced.

Muji Hotel Shenzhen

Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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