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REI’s Japanese operations are not profitable and demand for outdoor gear in Japan has waned since the 1990s.
Recreational Equipment Inc. will close its Japan web site Sunday, the company has announced. REI was one of the first web-based U.S. retailers to open a site in another country with that country’s language. REI also will close its single Japanese store by the end of the year.
REI said it is closing the operations because “consumer buying habits have become increasingly cautious and price focused, while interest in outdoor gear and apparel has waned from its peak in the 1990s; REI`s store location proved too remote from central Tokyo; and REI`s resources proved too limited to sustain the financial losses.”
Said REI CEO Dennis Madsen: "REI Japan succeeded in all ways except financial performance."
REI said it will return to its prior business strategy of serving Japanese customers via U.S. direct sales supported by a customer service desk in Tokyo. The company also said eliminating losses in Japan would enable it to direct resources toward growing its U.S. retail stores and web sites-REI.com and REI-outlet.com.
REI is a cooperative with more than 1.8 million active members. It operates 61 retail stores in addition to its two web sites.