Don Don Donki arrives at Orchard Central

Japanese discount store Don Don Donki opens its first Southeast Asian outlet at Orchard Central today, to be followed by a second outlet at the 100 AM mall in Tanjong Pagar in June.

The aim is to have at least 10 stores in Singapore within the next four or five years.

Over two storeys, the Orchard Central megastore will be open 24/7 and also feature a “night market” concept featuring eight dining outlets in partnership with food manufacturer Hokkaido Marche. This section will launch next month and be open only during dinner hours.

Don Don Donki’s product range of about 30,000 items was curated for Singapore and spans fresh and processed foods, vegetables, meat, sushi, groceries, beverages, costumes, clothing, cosmetics, novelty goods and household items. A third of the product selection is from Hokkaido.

Covering 1400sqm, Don Don Donki will also offer products from its in-house brand Jonetsu Kakaku as well as a Hokkaido-themed retail space.

The brand is known for its wide range of made-and-designed-in-Japan products – from toilet paper to second-hand Rolex watches.

Better known as Donki, the store was founded by Japanese businessman Takao Yasuda in 1978 and is owned by the Don Quijote Group. Its stores in Singapore will be run by Pan Pacific International Holdings, its holding company for overseas business.

Don Don Donki Singapore

Name change

While the stores in Japan are called Don Quijote, its Singapore branch name has been changed to avoid confusion with a local Spanish restaurant of the same name. The term “Don Don Donki” was taken from the store’s theme song.

“The idea to have Don Don Donki in Singapore was suggested by Hokkaido Marche,” said Yasuda, 68, who “semi-retired” a couple of years ago and moved to Singapore. “When I came here, I realised products in Singapore are very expensive, and in Japan I’m known as the king of discounts.

“What costs one dollar in Japan is sometimes two or three dollars here.”

So when he was approached by Hokkaido Marche to partner and open its concepts in Singapore, he agreed immediately.

Pan Pacific International Holdings director Hideki Okada says the Singapore store is a pioneer for the rest of Southeast Asia. It will be followed by a branch in Thailand next November.

With 368 stores in Japan, Hawaii and the US, the brand earned nearly ¥828.8 billion (US$7.3 billion) in annual sales for the fiscal year to June 30.

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