Friday, March 30, 2001

Ala Moana’s
Shirokiya sold to
management group

Maui store to close in May

By Russ Lynch

The Shirokiya department store in Ala Moana Center has been sold for $1 to some of its own management and former executives of its Japanese owner, Tokyu Department Store Co. Ltd., which said it is taking a $23 million loss on the sale.

The deal keeps the 40,000-square-foot store open in its present location at Ala Moana Center under a lease that holds through 2003 with an option to renew. However, Shirokiya's other Hawaii store, in the Kaahumanu Center on Maui, will close at the end of May. Its 30 employees will be offered severance.

Tokyu announced in January 2000 it was seeking to sell the Hawaii operations as part of a cost-cutting campaign and was withdrawing from retailing outside Japan.

More than 26,000 Hawaii customers signed petitions to keep the island stores open. The strong community support was bolstered by the state congressional delegation, Gov. Ben Cayetano, Mayor Jeremy Harris and other local leaders. However, Tokyu closed the Pearlridge Shirokiya store March 18. Its employees were eligible to apply for jobs at the Ala Moana store or get paid severance.

Tokyu Department Store executive Tadatoshi Suzuki, who recently retired, is chairman of the newly formed ownership company, Shirokiya Holdings LLC. Suzuki, a former vice president and general manager of Shirokiya Hawaii and at one time director of overseas business for the popular St. Germain Bakery, a Tokyu division, said he will relocate to the islands later this year.

He said in a statement issued in Honolulu that Shirokiya and its customers and supporters have demonstrated to Ala Moana Center owner General Growth Properties that the store has a future.

"General Growth has opened the door to Shirokiya for future negotiations before the lease expires in 2003," Suzuki said.

Shirokiya was an original tenant in the first phase of Ala Moana Center, opening a store there in 1959. It later moved to its current location in Phase Two, near the Liberty House store. The new owners said the stress now must be on making the business profitable and that will mean some changes. The store will increase its focus on Japanese merchandise and is entertaining new ways of marketing its products.

Slimming down

Ala Moana:

>> Sold for $1 to managers
>> Lease through 2003, with option to renew


>> Closing late May
>> 30 employees will be severed


>> Closed March 18

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