If on one hand libraries and newspaper kiosks overflow with books and magazines that examine, analyze and comment on the current economic recession hitting Japan, then on the other hand, many people have begun to think that, if there are losers (layoffs and companies in the red), there must also be winners somewhere, i.e. individuals or companies actually benefiting from the crisis.
Some Japanese bloggers, for example — most of them experts in economics or with extensive experience in the business world — reported news they learnt about through colleagues and other sources confirming that there are some who have been earning much more money in the last months than in any period of prosperity.
The president of Castanet Inc. Chikara Ueki (植木力) in his blog reveals details of a “whispered conversation” [ja] he had with the president of another company that deals with the processing and sale of raw materials. While he claims that the words, “there is a crisis, we are not making a penny” are the first ones people say nowadays when they meet each other, there are actually some who are making money from this unsteady economic situation:
I met the president [of one of those companies] who I hadn't seen in a long time. “Seems like a tough industry [to be in right now],” I said to him, “how is your company doing?”
「植木さん この経済危機で売上が３０％ダウンしたが、儲かっています。メーカー主導から私たちの時代になりました。 植木さん、わかりますか？」
That is why, he said, both the president and the employees, despite working from morning to evening, didn't earn much, and why the company was only barely able to maintain its operations.
[However], in the first half of last year, all of a sudden the prices of crude oil, iron, steel and other raw materials shot up, followed by the economic crisis.
Users [began to] demand price reductions, [he said, and his company] has been meeting their needs, to some degree.
The secret was in the raw material producers and their management environment.
In Japan, domestic raw material producers are reluctant to stop the production line because huge costs are required to put it back into operation again.
In other words, companies that have selling power can set a special price.
The more the recession worsens, the more frequently price reduction is applied.
And as a result of the fact that they have now managed to take over control of both the selling price to the customer and the buying price from the manufacturers, the gross margin [for the companies in the processing industry] has climbed higher than 10%, up to 40%.
Since last year, after the sudden rise in prices, it has become possible for these companies to negotiate the price.
They realized that even with a drastic reductions in sales, their profit increases (and set new records for highest profits).
However, as this case shows, it didn't just come out of nowhere. It is a reward for a long period of steady efforts.
According to some minor media [ja], there are some business sectors and some companies in particular whose balance sheet has been doing well since Japan entered in recession and the threat of a return to bubble times has made consumers more cautious. The fast food [ja] industry and the retailers of no-branded, medium-quality products seem to be very popular across all generations of consumers. The same can be said for the e-commerce service providers [ja], as buying online is said not to give people the feeling that they are actually spending money.
id:Warabidani comments [ja] on an article [ja] published on the news aggregator Netallica, which quotes a Forbes ranking of the 40 richest Japanese men. The top two positions are occupied by the President of the clothing company Uniqlo [ja] and by the honorary President of the pachinko company Sankyo [ja].
Nintendo‘s counselor [ja] Mr. Yamauchi fell to 3rd place. “What happened to Nintendo?”
Nothing bad, they are still making a lot of money.
Is it possible that all these companies, which are really earning money despite the crisis, have something in common? To answer to this question, Kôsuke Ideguchi (出口康介) has traced a profile of the emerging companies, basing the analysis on his ten years of experience.
1) They are able to interpret the trends of the times (they have a marketing [strategy] for the recession period).
2) They are proactive towards the new business [opportunities] related to their principal occupation.
3) Their strength is in their ability to excel in every sector of their business.
4) They are good at making use of their strengths when they embark on new activities.
5) The president has determination and is a person of action, and he has made moves very quickly.
6) They adopt the approach used by companies that are doing well, regardless of the type of industry [that company is in] (they are honest and studious).
7) They revise their managing strategy regularly and change it accordingly, with flexibility.
8) Even when they are earning good profits, they still operate their business keeping in mind that a crisis may occur.
9) They use money for the benefit of employees (personnel training).
10) The executives are young and there is a leader with energy who acts as a driving force for the company (fostering of talent).