Leaders November 2014

Love of British business

Quality, originality and reputation reap rewards

As this issue goes to print, anticipation of the British Business Awards is tangible. While all eyes look to the best of British business, it is heartening that the future for UK firms in Japan appears equally bright.

New growth opportunities
On 27 October, at the launch of the GREAT Week organised by UK Trade & Investment in Tokyo, I had the privilege of meeting representatives—eyes aglow—from a number of British businesses.

With strategies in place to localise their products, support from trade experts at the British Embassy Tokyo, as well as meetings with locals organised, many of the firms seemed well prepared to take their first steps into the market.

They are following in the footsteps of a number of British firms, large and small, reported recently to have secured, or currently to be seeking, business in Japan (page 8). Across sectors ranging from food and drink to leisure and energy, British businesses from all four nations are finding success here.

On 31 October, Edwina Hart MBE, minister for economy, science and transport of Wales, closed a week of trade and investment meetings with a reception at the British Embassy Tokyo.

Hosted by British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO, the evening showcased a number of Welsh firms’ products, including sea salt, whisky, jam and socks.

It was a joy to see the guests lap up the treats on offer and show their appreciation for the craftsmanship that went into making them.

Success stories
Long an asset in attracting Japanese customers, it is the trust and respect afforded the UK as a brand that so impressed cycle manufacturer Brompton Bicycle Ltd. when the firm introduced its products.

With compact bicycles in bright colours, consumers welcomed the combination of the firm’s originality with the reliability a product made in the UK provides (page 28).

Digital pioneer Apical Ltd. was also warmly welcomed, with the Japanese—globally recognised early adopters—snapping up its camera technology based on how the eye works.

British firm McKinney Rogers K.K. won hearts with its innovative use of army strategies for business success. It is the first consulting service of its kind here (page 27).

Skills for doing good
It is a pleasure to report that a number of UK firms and organisations have been involved in the construction of a sanctuary for Animal Refuge Kansai (page 16).

Based in the countryside of Hyogo Prefecture, the state-of-the-art facility for the not-for-profit organisation will care for abandoned dogs, with a cattery planned for the future.

Pupils, teachers and supporters of the British School in Tokyo have also been hard at work using their talents to help open a school in rural Cambodia (page 31).

With ongoing support planned for the international project, I’m sure there will be much to learn for pupils in both countries.