Tokyu Department Store Co. Ltd. is one of Japan’s most famous department stores. Operating 15 stores in Japan with a flagship location in Shibuya, Tokyu is also responsible for multiple other shops under their ownership group including the well known Shibuya 109 and Shibuya 109-2 stores. The Tokyu company has also become involved in real estate, bakery, information services, and outside retail operations over the years, diversifying to weather the recent economic conditions in Japan.
Tokyu Department Store Co. dates its history back to the 17th century with the founding of Shirokiya, a draper’s shop founded in 1662 by Hikotaro Omura in Nihonbashi, Edo. The business operated in Edo, later renamed to Tokyo until 1919 when it was incorporated as Shirokiya Drapery Shop Co. Ltd. The Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed much of the business in 1924, the company adjusted its name to Shirokiya Co., Ltd and reopened a more modern store in 1933.
During the 1930s, another company was started in Tokyo by the Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railways Co. known as Tokoyo Department Store. The companies were separated and redistributed following World War II and eventually the Tokyu Department Store name was born in 1948. Later, Tokyu Foods was added to the company’s many productions with more than 140 bakeries in Japan, and later Gold Pak, another food company specializing in the packaging of fruit and vegetable juices. In 1956 Shirokiya Co. joined the Tokyu group and the two merged to form multiple new department store ventures, including the first overseas store in Honolulu, Hawaii with the Hawaii Shikrokiya in the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
The various names under which Tokyu companies operated were all incorporated into the current name of Tokyu Department Store Co., Ltd in 1967, when the newest shop in Shibuya was opened. Later, in 1979 Shibuya 109 was opened to cater towards teenagers and young women and quickly became one of the largest shopping centers in Tokyo in terms of annual revenue.
Since the 1980s, Tokyu has diversified its interests, opening new overseas stores in Hong Kong, China, and Thailand, as well as Singapore, and later New Zealand. Multiple unrelated business ventures followed with the acquisition of a seed company in Hong Kong , a silk company in Thailand, household goods and furniture in the United States and Japan, and many more.
By the 1990s, the Tokyu Group comprised of more than 400 companies which had to be split up, though Tokyu Department Store was a keystone with nearly 40% of the total revenue coming through them. With significant economic downturn in the 1990s, Tokyu scaled back its operations in most of its businesses, but has recently been resurging.