Marui Co., Ltd (株式会社丸井) is a Tokyo based chain of department stores. The company is well known for its line and stock of women’s clothing and accessories. The company is currently run by Tadao Aoi. The company is among the largest department store chains in Japan and focuses on selling mostly to young women in their teens to early thirties. The company was also among the first to offer credit cards to its customers and has since acquired millions of credit customers.
The origins of Marui date back to 1931 when Chuji Aoi opened his first store selling furniture and utensils in Nakano, Tokyo. Born in Toyama in 1904, Aoi graduated from the Takaoka Technical High School in 1922 and started working for Maruni, a trading and retailing company in Tokyo. Maruni was part of the Zenshiro Tasaka group which was well known for being the first company in Japan to extend credit to its customers, selling laquerware on installment plans in as early as 1895.
Aoi worked for Maruni for nine years before using his savings, loans, and experience to open his own store. The recently rebuilt Tokyo had a high demand for furniture following the Great Kanto Earthquake and the idea of credit sales went over well with many customers still struggling to afford rebuilding. Eventually, Aoi added clothing, shoes, and electronics to his stock and opened a second store before changing the company name to Marui in 1936.
The Marui stores were closed and subsequently destroyed during the air raids of World War II, but Aoi started selling again shortly after the war was over, rebuilding his stores and opening multiple new ones. By 1953, Aoi was advertising on radio for 8 stores and had annual revenues in excess of 1 Billion yen.
In 1956 the current president, Tadao Aoi joined the company and researched credit operations in American stores, prompting the start of new credit services divisions and the launch of the first Marui credit card in 1960. Tadao Aoi later became president of the company in 1972. During the 1990s, Marui suffered along with many other Japanese retailers during the country’s economic downturn, but has recently resurged slightly to regain steady profits.
Current principal subsidiaries of Marui Co. Ltd include: AIM Create Co Ltd., M&C Systems Co Ltd., Sero First Co Ltd., CSC Service Co Ltd., and Moving Co Ltd.