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Western Japan's biggest department store to battle for potential market


15:42, November 16, 2012

OSAKA, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Competition among department stores in the Japanese commercial city of Osaka has recently intensified prior to the "grand opening" of western Japan's biggest department store, scheduled for next week.

The large-scale shopping facility, called the "Hankyu Umeda Flagship Store", covers a total floor area of 80,000 square meters and adjoins Hankyu Umeda Station. The Umeda business district, also known as "Kita", is Osaka's central rail transport hub, which a total of 2.3 million people use per day. It now boasts four department stores in addition to the world's largest underground shopping mall complex that connects to other shopping complexes, cinemas, hotels and rail and subway stations.

After a seven-year reconstruction period, the mega department store, which employs more than 10,000 staff, has "preliminarily" opened most of its shopping zones and some 30 upscale and casual restaurants. Some spaces remain unopened, such as an event hall with some 200 seats and galleries that have yet to be furnished, according to H2O Retailing Corporation. The company invested 60 billion yen (about 750 million U.S. dollars) in the project to renew the store, which originally opened as the world's first " railway terminal department store" in 1929.

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