Hidekuni Kuroda – NEW ENTRY

Hidekuni Kuroda – NEW ENTRY

2021: Japanese stationery and office furniture group Kokuyo is headed by President and CEO Hidekuni Kuroda, a role he has held since 2015. Headquartered in Osaka, the 45-year-old oversees almost 7,000 employees across Asia, including Vietnam, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Kokuyo’s business is separated into three main divisions: Global Stationery Domain (manufacture of notebooks, stationery, desktop accessories, etc), Spatial Value Domain (workplace furnishings and retailer Actus) and Business Supplies Domain (wholesaling and the Kaunet direct B2B business), with group sales in 2020 reaching just over ¥300 billion ($2.7 billion). Forecasts for FY2021 sales stand at around ¥321 billion, driven mainly by the Spatial Value division as Kokuyo expects to capitalise on new working practices amid the shift towards dispersed workforces.

In the Business Supplies segment, Kokuyo has integrated its distribution networks and initiated a migration strategy for its sales system which the company expects to bear fruit this year. While the Kaunet business has been negatively affected by the decline in office attendance, it is working on improving its online offering and growing its user base to make inroads in the e-commerce market.

At the beginning of 2021, the business supplies firm put into action a long-term transformation vision – Change, Challenge, Create (CCC) 2030 as it seeks to ‘be unique’, and remain in step with new ways of working and learning to ensure sustainable growth. 

Intending to make the company into a ¥500 billion business by 2030, Kokuyo has also introduced the ‘Forest Model’ – its aim to become a diverse community of businesses, with assets shared across the group.

As part of the overall strategy, Kokuyo said it is exploring opportunities in relation to the use of digital technology to enhance analogue experiences; using customer data to guide the development of new products and services; providing personalised value to small target markets.

Ploughing ¥180 billion into the transformation plan, it has already acquired a majority stake in learning technology firm Clear, which will operate as a subsidiary of Kukuyo. Furthering the company’s interest in hybrid working – which Kukuyo refers to as activity-based working – investment has been made in several companies to boost its workplace furniture division. These include:

  • HOMMA in the US, which specialises in innovative designs, materials and technology for residential buildings
  • Photosynth, a developer of cloud-based IoT keyless lock systems
  • Amana, a Tokyo-based visual content agency, where the two companies will collaborate on bespoke communication solutions and jointly develop services optimised to working practices in the ‘new normal’.