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The processes and structures in the retail sector in Japan frequently are characterised as very traditional. Since the decade of slow growth in the 1990s a small group of medium-sized retail firms have adopted strategies that have allowed growth in sales and profit. These medium-sized firms, that are present in several sub-sectors of retailing, are becoming, through strategies focused on localisation and ‘newness', the role models and catalysts for a more general change that is spreading through Japanese retailing.