executive impact

Bringing 'Made in Great Britain' label to Japan

By Megan Waters for BCCJ ACUMEN

In 2012, Yagi Tsusho Limited won a British Business Award for UK–Japan Partnership. Established in 1946, Yagi Tsusho has been importing British textiles and fashion goods to Japan and successfully marketing the Made in Great Britain label here for more than 40 years.

BCCJ ACUMEN speaks with Yuzo Yagi, President, chairman and CEO of Yagi Tsusho Limited.

What do you personally like about British style/fashion?

While British products have a great tradition and heritage, they are innovative and contemporary. Fashion moves on, but style remains. With our global marketing know-how, we can give heritage brands a new lease on life.

Why do you think the brands of Barbour, MACKINTOSH and J&M Davidson appeal to the Japanese market?

These brands have a very particular character and appeal to fashion- and lifestyle-conscious men and women. Recently, we have been focusing not only on importing and selling British clothing, but also on conveying to the local market the British heritage and lifestyle behind the products.

The marriage between the heritage of these brands and our marketing know-how makes these products more attractive to Japanese customers and those around the world.

In 2012, Yagi Tsusho Limited won a British Business Award for UK–Japan Partnership. What does this mean to your firm and how will you continue to bring British heritage, culture and lifestyle to the Japan market?

The British Business Award means a lot to us, because it has provided encouragement to our staff who have been working non-stop on promoting these brands. We will certainly continue to promote not only British heritage, but also contemporary fashion here in Japan.

How has the UK helped in your firm’s growth?

We have a never-ending desire to work with the UK because we have a great respect for British style. In this regard, the UK and British fashion have greatly contributed to our company’s growth, especially since around 1960.

What changes, if any, would you like to see in the fashion industry to improve UK–Japan business relations?

The British government should encourage British companies to make products in their home country. They should try to concentrate on innovative products that are made in the UK.

What has been your company’s biggest challenge in working with British firms/brands?

The difference in culture in conducting business. In addition, when bringing over British products, they first need to be modified in some way, such as size. We alter the items so Japanese consumers can understand the true value of the brands.

As well as importing a number of British brands into Japan and distributing them around the country, we invested and took over MACKINTOSH and J&M Davidson to secure the future development of the brands.

What do you believe is the greatest asset that British firms can offer the Japanese market?

True British value and lifestyle.

How would you compare working with British firms and with other foreign firms?

The British would appear to be the best communicators, in the written form, and when managing an organisation.

What are your plans for Yagi Tsusho Limited and the Barbour, MACKINTOSH and J&M Davidson brands here?

We are aiming to develop these brands and make MACKINTOSH and J&M Davidson luxury global brands. In addition, we have quite an ambitious plan to promote other excellent British brands in Japan and around the world.

© Japan Today

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Amazing how something promoting the UK gets zero comment... certainly shows where the majority of members of this site come from.

As far as the story goes, I've seen quite a lot of British brands in Japan... and it always makes me smile when I see them. I remember seeing a Rover Mini Mayfair with a "Highlander" logo on it... which made me twice as happy.

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When you see an Austin Maxi on a back road in Kyushu, you will smile like you are on LSD. :-) But that has nothing on the time I discovered HP Sauce in a store in Sakai.

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I tried to get the British Council's help in promoting my mother's art (jeanette leuers) which she has been selling in Japan now for a bit more than a decade but got nowhere.

And as I always say, it seems to me that Westerners excel at making formal, symbolic systems, such as software, academic theories and institutions, financial products such as insurance, communications systems (e.g. the Internet), retail systems (MacDonalds, Coca Cola), manufacturing systems (Boeing), and other "things" that are corporeal but so minute and or systematic as to require development symbolically (as opposed to imaginatively) such as pharmaceuticals and CPUs, as opposed to actual material goods, such as mentioned in this article. Are there not in fact many things that have, or could have, a made in Great Britain label? For example, Lloyds of London underwrote much of the insurance paid to victims of the tsunami (and made a record loss) but presumably recouped that loss in subsequent premiums. If just one company, Lloyds, did recoup the $1.95 billion loss, that makes the fashion and textile imports rather insignificant. The British do not buy insurance, and the like (with the exception of game software which is imaginable) from the Japanese either.


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Hey timtak, tell your mum I like her work - some very lovely art there.

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Would they promote UK food? To this day I have NEVER seen a British restaurant in Japan, and I don't include pub grub.

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@ Zichi Thank you very much for the advice on how to Bring the made in Great Britain label to Japan. My mother is English, so I will suggest to her the 'in name only British Council' tack.

With regard to food, I still import tea bags and Marmite.

I also find that British online bike stores (wiggle/planetx) are cheaper than buying from local cycling and sports stores even including postage, even for things made in Japan due perhaps to the popularity of cycling in post Wiggo Britain, and or due to the way that Westerners are good with (retail) systems. I see that wiggle has a Japanese language page.

I have also imported a British wood burning stove (Clearview - pricey but recommended) for the way that it gets the air to flow across the glass, keeping the view of the burning wood clear. Someone should be importing British stoves.

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Someone should import British beer* - at a reasonable price, of course.

(Other than Bass and Guinness, which is not really British and which Kirin has almost completely managed to remove any taste.)

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Bertie w, why doesn't some one start a micro brewery? would that be possible? would polatics get in the way?

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Thank you Tim & people, for the kind comments and ideas ref promoting my artwork.! I think of myself as European, far more than Brit - and have small idea how England looks these days. I think of it as a giant motorway, or maybe like Death Race 2000 with blocks of flats & offices, 'the Shard',,,,???... Ive been selling my paintings in Japan for 15 years, & never met anyone else who does similarly. I do think about different ways to exhibit work in Japan - but the Japanese Gallery people who present my shows are all extremely kind to me, & I havnt any reason to part company with them, so far. I never heard of the British Council, but if ever I find myself out in the cold - that could be a good idea!

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Would they promote UK food? To this day I have NEVER seen a British restaurant in Japan, and I don't include pub grub.

Give us real sausages, pies and roast beef please ! The "Irish pub" fish and chips here just don't cut it either I'm afraid ... And what about the huge variety of crisp flavours like picked onion or prawn cocktail, bet they would take off here if given a push!

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