Publicity May 2015

Time for differentiation in the relocation sector

UniGroup Relocation chooses innovation and a human approach for better service

After a few years of decline, the number of non-Japanese living in Japan has almost recovered to the level it was in 2010, with more than 2.3mn currently in residence.

This is due to not only the great quality of life offered in the country and the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also to the joint efforts of the Japanese government. It is determined to attract foreign direct investment, while large Japanese firms seek to improve their results in foreign markets.

Why is Japan’s relocation sector doing well?

Among the government initiatives, we can see the effects of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Subsidy Program for Projects Promoting Asian Site Location in Japan. The scheme offers numerous fiscal advantages to foreign firms that set up their Asian headquarters or R&D department in Japan.

Moreover, international business desks providing information in English have been set up to make it easier to comply with requisite procedures. In addition, the low yen and the great appeal of some sectors—for example healthcare, thanks to the ageing population—have spurred a growing interest in coming to work and/or invest in Japan.

In order to familiarise themselves with foreign markets, Japanese businesses are increasingly favouring the hiring of non-Japanese, helped by government initiatives to ease the work visa application process.

A 2013 study by management consulting firm Accenture shows that 90% of the responding Japanese firms were committed to continuing their overseas expansion. Among them, 46% said that they were sending expatriates from their headquarters to staff overseas operations and transfer their business culture.

These factors have led to an influx of expatriates, whose moving is often managed by relocation service providers, making the process not only trouble free but also quicker and less costly for firms and individuals. Offering similar pricing, conditions and door-to-door services, relocation firms in Japan are competing fiercely for market share.

Differentiating UniGroup

In this context, finding a way to highlight the exceptional aspects of our firm enables our clients to distinguish between us and our competitors, and then to decide which company would be the most appropriate to use for relocation.

With our regional headquarters in Asia, UniGroup Relocation Japan benefits from a very large network in logistics and in relocation. Our core business is door-to-door moving, property protection and storage in our own warehouses.

UniGroup Relocation, born in 1947 from an alliance of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit, is building its singularity in Japan in two ways: through innovation and by adopting a more human approach.

At UniGroup Relocation Japan, we believe that it is time to embrace the future of relocation in order to better assist our customers in a timely and efficient manner, while also being able to focus on human relations with them. To do this, we are investigating new technologies to ease our technical processing.

In the RES Forum Annual Report 2014—Key Trends in Global Mobility, Paul Bernardt, managing director of the UniGroup Relocation Network, explains this strategy: “On a small scale, our own company has started with an application whereby the transferee is 100% self-serving. They do their own survey, determine [what their shipment will be and what will be excluded], plan dates / transit time, and subsequent price. There is no interaction with a move manager or a surveyor, meaning direct cost saving of several hundred euro”.

In the relocation sector, UniGroup Japan has the chance to be connected with people from all over the world: suppliers, partners, colleagues and clients. We believe that customers who trust us deserve to benefit from our local and international network—in order to find a new residence, a school for their children, and associations of which they could be a part—that is, any kind of introduction we can offer. For this reason, UniGroup recently acquired Sterling Relocation Limited, a well known UK-based relocation firm.

In addition to the links UniGroup Relocation Japan can already offer, we are planning to organise our first networking event in the coming months, to allow newly relocated families to build their first connections in Japan. Our next step is to meet new partners in order to expand our local network.

Milena Osika