Introduction to Companies in Osaka

Introduction to Companies in Osaka



Interviews with foreign investors in Osaka 2012.07.18
Osaka : as an entry point to Japan
Founder & CEO, ZEBRA A/S
Mr. Lennart Lajboschitz
QHow do you feel about tomorrow’s pre-opening?

I feel very excited because we have been working on this project for more than a year. We started—Actually, Claus, our director, came to Japan exactly after the catastrophe last year, and we decided to go ahead, and since then we have been working very hard on this, so I am very excited to see how it will come through.

QPlease introduce the company history and future prospect of Tiger.

I founded Tiger in 1995, and since then—it started more or less as a one-dollar store, and then it developed into different price points. And it also started that we had, we bought products that were already made. Now we only have products made for us. And now we have our own designers. We have 150 stores in Europe, where 60 are in Denmark, and the rest, the 90 shops are around Europe in 16 different countries. We expect to have 721 shops in Europe in three and a half years. We are expanding at the moment, we open a shop every five days in Europe, and we expect that we also will develop the Asian market, but we want to build from success, so this is a test. And we do not know how long the test will be, but when we have success, we expect to work with the Japanese partner and to open many stores in Japan.

QWhat is the concept of Tiger?

I think there are two things. First of all, you have the products, and then also you have the setting, the way the shop is made. If we look at the product first, we make our own product with Danish designers, and we have also a Danish assortment. And we did not change this. We actually wanted to take the Danish assortment to Japan to be a real Danish concept. So that is quite important. But also the setting is that, in Japan, the shops are made that you do not follow a certain route. You can go many ways. We did not make this; we make it into a maze. So we take the customer by the hand, and we lead them, and we make them explore the way of going into the shop. So the maze is something that is quite different. And also, the displays that we have in the shop are made of wood – light wood – something that is taken from the industry; I think that this layout and the assortment is what makes it Danish.

QWhy did you chose Japan for the first asian store?

I think Japan is probably the most sophisticated retail market in the world – very sophisticated. But we would like to enter this for two reasons: one thing is we have something to offer, but the second thing is to learn from it. So we also expect to learn from being in Japan, and maybe we can take this to Europe.

QThen, why Osaka?

We also looked at Tokyo, but in Tokyo the city is divided into many different areas, and we would like to have a smaller city, like Osaka, where we can test the concept on the market. We will meet the entire population much more quickly. It is a very, very nice city. I enjoy very much being here. I have been here many times. And I think that this testing is where we get closer to the customer, and at the same time, the Kansai region is so big. It is more—the buying power is more than all of Canada. So I think the market is so big, and at the same time, we get closer to the customers in Osaka than we do in Tokyo. So that is why we chose it. I think that the attention that we have received in Osaka has been tremendous. We have really been very surprised, and we have had a lot of attention. If we would have entered Tokyo, maybe no one would have seen us.

QSo you think of Osaka as like an entry point to Japan...


QHow was the support from governments?

Yes, we had, actually, a lot of help, and I do not think we would have made it without the help. I think that you have helped us very, very much, and I think also JETRO have helped us very much, and we have had a lot of support from many Japanese organizations, and I think this happened more than what we expected. Actually, we really appreciate it very, very much. So thank you.

QSo how do you see the big differences between Japanese and Danish cultures?

The big difference is that in Western Europe, we emphasize very much on the individual. And in Japan, this is not the same. It is more a collective understanding. And I think this is so different, that the total approach, it is very much in Europe about “me” and what “I” want to express and being very unique. I think in Japan, you have a much more cultivated culture, and you do not live very different from the rest, whereas in Europe that is all what it is about. And this is a very big difference, and I think this is very interesting.
I think that the world is changing so quick, and it is becoming more and more a global world, and we come from different points, where Japanese culture is very strong, Danish culture is very strong, and also other cultures. And I think these meetings are so interesting to see this. And this is what is happening right now, and I think we are just in the middle of it, and us coming to Japan is a part of this.

QWhat is the secret of your success?

I think the secret is many things, but I think that the flexibility is one major thing; it is that we change our products very, very much. When you come into our store, you will find hobby articles, you will find kitchen articles, you will find toys, you will find stationery, you will find many, many different kinds of articles, and we can move where we feel that we can make a difference. If we cannot make a difference, then we do not go into it. We only go into where we see that we can make a difference. This flexibility is something that is very important for us. The second thing is that I think that everything we do, we care about, and we care very much. We fight indifference; we do not like indifference. We want that people care about what they are doing, and you will see all our staff, they care about what they are doing; the buying team care very much; the concept, we care very much. So we think and we try to make what we feel there is a meaning behind. We do not do like the other ones are doing. I think that any concept has to have two things: they have to be unique, and they have to be relevant. If you are not unique, you can only compete on price. If you are unique but you are without relevance, then it does not matter. So you need to be unique and also relevant for your customer.

Establishment 1995
Home Base Copenhagen, Denmark
Parent Company ZEBRA A/S
Business Retail stores of Danish-designed general merchandise
Number of stores Approx. 150 stores in 17 countries (as of July 2012)
History of Tiger Copenhagen, Japan In July 2011: ZEBRA A/S opened ZEBRA JAPAN Co., Ltd in Osaka.
On 21st July 2012: ZEBRA JAPAN Opened "Tiger Copenhagen” in Shinsaibashi, which is the first shop in Asia.