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Dai-Ei to close three department stores in Okinawa

Date Posted: 2002-05-28

The troubled department store operator Dai-Ei announced that as a part of the company's reorganization, it would close three of its five outlets in Okinawa. The three, Dai-Ei Itoman, Dai-Ei Hypermart in Awase and Kou's discount store in Kadena, will close as early as in August. The remaining two, Dai-Ei in Naha City and Urasoe will be closed at a later date.

Closing its operations in Okinawa is part of Dai-Ei's efforts to rehabilitate itself. The department store chain that employs over 200,000 people nationwide has been teetering on the verge of bankruptcy that resulted for its main creditors waiving 500 billion in outstanding loans. The chain has announced that it will close 60 outlets nationwide by the end of the year.

In Okinawa, Dai-Ei has steadily lost markets to its main rivals, Jusco and San-Ei. As a result of the closings of the three shops 341 jobs will be lost. In addition 94 vendors operating within the department stores will have to close or find a new host. Dai-Ei management says that the company will offer positions outside Okinawa to all of its regular workers, but part-time workers and those working for vendors within Dai-Ei stores are on their own.

After hearing the news, workers at Dai-Ei Hypermart in Awase were in shock. "This is very bad news for us. We simply don't know what to do next," a sales woman at Hypermart said. "I can't believe that Dai-Ei is closing this department store. This outlet is very popular and we have plenty of customers," a sales clerk at Dai-Ei Itoman said. Many also wonder what will become of the building that is located on a landfill in the middle of Itoman's new Nishizaki area.

The closings seem to be even more shocking to vendors. An owner of a jewelry shop that operates inside Hypermart says that she is very worried about the future. "This is my only shop. Sure, the sles have been down but we have worked hard to stay in business. Dai-Ei head office has said that if we want to stay, we can continue, but on what conditions. Who will own this building in the future, and on what terms we can stay, no one knows."

Okinawa City Mayor Masakazu Nakasone says that he is disappointed. "We expected a lot from the Hypermart when we made our city plan for the Hiyane area in Awase some ten years ago. Now many people are going to lose their jobs, and then we have to find out how to reutilize the building and space when Hypermart closes," Nakasone stated.

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