Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp. is to join forces with domestic retailer Aeon Co. in a "comprehensive business alliance" taking in distribution, procurement and the supply chain.

Mitsubishi said today (16 December) that it had struck a deal with Aeon to work together on streamlining the retailer's distribution network and procuring raw materials and products globally.

Under the agreement, the conglomerate has bought a 5.05% stake in Aeon, which is facing fierce competition in its home market as the Japanese population ages and the country's economy is being hit by the global economic crisis.

Mitsubishi said the companies would look to beef up their presence not just in Japan but across Asia. Aeon operates a chain of 11,000 stores in Japan and overseas.

"Aeon and Mitsubishi Corp. will take advantage of each other's networks - Aeon's store and consumer network and Mitsubishi's global procurement and information network - with the aim of achieving long-term prosperity and continuous growth at both companies," Mitsubishi said.

"Looking ahead, the two companies will work together to establish [a] consumer-oriented society in Japan, Asia and the world."