Why Japan is so keen on its own ‘super’ office supply chain
Tokyo, Japan — Japanese companies are buying up office supplies and accessories from overseas as a way to boost domestic demand.
The moves, known as kawaii, come amid rising concern about the cost of living in the country.
Japanese companies are spending more on office supplies than ever before.
The number of office supplies sold by the country’s two largest companies, Koei Tecmo and Panasonic Corp., has more than doubled since 2010, to more than $3.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The moves reflect a desire by Japanese companies to boost demand in a country that is facing its own economic woes.
They also come as the world’s second-largest economy is struggling to maintain its economic growth despite a sharp decline in exports in the past year and a half.
Koeibos office supply and accessories retailer, Kottai, is among the companies buying office supplies from overseas.
The company, which makes office chairs and accessories, sells to Japanese retailers such as Kohls, Lotte Mart, Home & Garden, and JCPenney.
Kotta, which also makes office supplies for retailers, plans to increase sales by a third this year.
The retailer plans to buy about 20,000 office supplies a month this year and expects to increase that to 30,000 in 2018, said Koji Nakahara, the company’s chief executive officer.
The sales of office accessories have soared in recent years, fueled by the rise of e-commerce and digital technology.
A survey conducted by the Japan Council for the Promotion of Science, Technology and Industry found that 80 percent of Japanese businesses said they were thinking about buying office equipment or office supplies this year, up from 71 percent in 2013.
At the same time, Kota Group Co., the countrys largest private-sector employer, is spending nearly $2 billion this year on a supply chain to import office supplies.
The firm said in April that it plans to invest up to $8.8 billion in the next three years to help boost its global supply chain.
Last year, Kotsu Kota, the country s largest private company, bought a majority stake in Panasonic, Japan s biggest office supplies retailer, for $5.9 billion.
Kota is expected to invest $2.6 billion this fiscal year, the firm said.
The deal is expected as part of a larger corporate buyout plan to expand the companys business footprint overseas.
Kottai and Kota are not the only Japanese companies buying from overseas suppliers.
Panasonic also bought a 70 percent stake in Kottas Office Supplies, an online seller of office furniture and office supplies that sells to the public and private sectors.