Lessons On Business In Japan With Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce Has Had a Presence in Japan for Over 100 Years

Rolls-Royce is a company with a long and rich history, and can proudly say they have been doing business in Japan for over one hundred years.

Beginning in car manufacturing before branching out into aircraft and marine engine manufacturing, the company has adapted well both to the challenges of globalisation and market trends.

In November 2015 Rolls-Royce’s global chairman, Ian Davis, addressed the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s Platinum and Corporate Plus members during a breakfast roundtable.

“Japan is an important base for us,” said Davis, “both as a customer and a supplier. About 20% of any airplane usually is Japanese.”

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He touched on the deep relationship shared between the UK and Japan, and noted that Rolls-Royce currently supply both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, and has been supplying the Japanese Navy for 100 years.

Long-term Relationships are Key in Japan

“We have 10 to 15 year contracts in Japan, with a focus on long-term relationships – something that is highly valued in Japan.”

Concerning the current economic climate, Davis feels that both Japan and the UK are facing similar issues.

The UK focus will be on politics, immigration and Europe, as well as cost reduction in the public sector, which will see brutal cuts as the Government aims to redress the budget balance.

The British Government is encouraging more UK exports than ever before, as can be seen with the recent launch of Exporting is GREAT.

Davis explained that there is an increasing need for much more international trade, with getting into growth markets and getting a share in that rather than manufacturing and selling entire products within a single country at the forefront.

He acknowledged that it is still a challenge for UK companies to establish a footprint in Japan, but that it is easier to make money here than in China.

He advised against targeting the Asian market as a whole, rather making sure to break it up, as each country’s market structure is different. “In my opinion, Japan and Korea are under-marketed in the West,” he added.

BCCJ President David Bickle suggested a lack of knowledge in the UK about the different markets in Asia, with people tending to lump them all together rather than considering them individually.

Various Platforms are Available to Help UK Companies Enter the Japanese Market

The long-held perception is that it is difficult and expensive to do business in Japan, but with the number of platforms now available to help UK companies be successful in Japan that need not be the case.

UK Trade & Investment provide a stellar service, with experienced trade advisers and market experts offering tailored advice to UK businesses.

JETRO, are looking for foreign companies who want to invest in Japan, especially those wishing to open offices and research and development facilities.

The general consensus was that Japan is going to be a lot more open, and that it is the place to be over the next five to ten years, and is an especially good place for long-term investment and infrastructure, although it must be remembered that perseverance is essential here.

“Japan is a hard nut to crack, but it is a nut worth cracking,” declared Davis.


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Article by Vanessa Holden, December 2015.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce plc.