Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 346, July 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


An alternative to the standard ring-pull tab found on beverage cans could be available soon in Japan. BALL CORP. of Muncie, Indiana has licensed its Touch Top technology to CHUKYO IYAKUHIN CO., LTD. Known as a universal end, Touch Top has a distinctive center-push design and dome profile. Usable with both aluminum and steel cans, it creates a bottle-like opening with smooth edges. The Nagoya-headquartered manufacturer currently is trying to develop a market for the technology among can makers. Touch Top production eliminates the tab manufacturing process without requiring major changes in filling lines or vending machines.

VAPORTEK, INC.'s subsidiary has introduced a freestanding air purifier for the home that is made specifically for the Japanese market. CONSOL CORP. is distributing the Sussex, Wisconsin company's product, which costs under $50. It is projecting first-year sales of $3.6 million.

A Rooms To Go Kids section is open at a JUSCO CO., LTD. store in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture. Last fall, Seffner, Florida-based furniture discounter ROOMS TO GO INC. agreed to provide management advice to the big supermarket operator and to allow it to use the Rooms To Go name on furniture showrooms (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 338, November 1997, p. 25). The first location sells about 800 products, including decorative items as well as furniture, for children ages 4 to 14. Ten different furniture groupings are on display, although pieces can be purchased individually.

Having switched distributors, TUMI, INC., a maker of high-end luggage, briefcases and similar products, hopes to boost its near-term annual Japan sales to $5 million from $3.6 million in FY 1997. The Middlesex, New Jersey company now is working with Osaka's ACE CO., LTD., which sells 70 of its products to department stores and specialty shops. The Tumi line, which is priced from $535 to $915, is made from lightweight, durable nylon. Within five years, Ace expects annual sales to reach $17.9 million. OKANO CORP. had represented the line since 1991.

The stila line of cosmetics, the creation of a top Los Angeles makeup artist, will be brought to the Japanese market by the local powerhouse in this business. STILA COSMETICS, INC. has tied up with SHISEIDO CO., LTD. Marketing of the 37 different stila products actually will be handled by INTERACT CO., LTD., a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan's top cosmetics company. It was formed a year ago to introduce foreign high-end brands. Distribution will start this fall, with plans to launch stila in five name department stores in the first year. During that time frame, the line is expected to produce sales of nearly $3.3 million. Within five years, InterAct hopes to be selling stila products at 40 locations.

The world's fourth-largest advertising network, New York City's BBDO WORLDWIDE, has formed a partnership with I&S CORP., Japan's eighth-biggest ad agency with 1997 billings of $912 million. The tie-up followed the April acquisition of a 20 percent stake in I&S by OMNICOM GROUP INC., BBDO's Manhattan-based parent. Through the combination of their expertise, the new partners expect to provide advertising and marketing communications services to Japanese companies operating locally or internationally as well as to foreign companies doing business in Japan. Before teaming up with I&S, BBDO, which had 1997 billings of $9.3 billion, dissolved a 1983 relationship with the Tokyo ad agency's rival, ASATSU INC.

Hollywood giant SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. has teamed with parent SONY CORP. to develop films, particularly animated ones, in Japan. The studio has opened a planning and production office in Tokyo and is negotiating with several local animation companies. It hopes to start work on the first film by the end of the year. Sony will cover part of the production costs in exchange for distribution rights.

An exchange rate of ¥140=$1.00 was used in this report.

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