Interview May 2013

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?
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.

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.