Reve21 Co., the Japanese hair clinic operator, shortlisted four candidates to replace Chief Executive Officer Katsumasa Okamura and prepare the company for an initial public offering and expansion abroad.
The four, including former Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) employee Jun Iwata, have already been hired from 500 applicants outside of the company, founder and CEO Okamura said in an interview in Tokyo on March 5. Osaka-based Reve21 plans to open its first overseas business in Shanghai by Dec. 31 and list on exchanges in Tokyo and Hong Kong as early as 2015, he said.
Reve21 is among Japanese companies that are looking abroad as a declining population hinders growth opportunities at home. The hair clinic, which doubled customers to 145,000 in six years, will start business in Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea as well as China, Okamura, 67, said.
“We can’t hope for much from the Japanese economy, so the rest of Asia will be a driver for growth,” said Okamura, who plans to retire after choosing his successor late next year. He expects the candidates “to push our global expansion and beef up management to prepare for the listings.”
Iwata, 42, spent more than a decade at Toyota, where he was involved in international product planning and marketing. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.
“Iwata has excellent insight and footwork,” Okamura said. “He actually flew to Shanghai last weekend and interviewed a candidate to manage the new business.”
The other candidates are Makoto Nomura, 52, who had a stint at cosmetics maker Kao Corp. (4452), Hiroto Muramatsu, 48, who worked at East Japan Railway Co. (9020) and Masaki Yamamoto, 50, a former International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) employee. The CEO will be paid at least 30 million yen ($369,000) a year, Okamura said.
Reve21 will brief the press on its hiring and overseas expansion plans today at around 1 p.m. in Tokyo.
The hair clinic aims to open about 100 outlets in China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan in five years, compared with the 96 currently operating in Japan, Okamura said. A total of 50 shops will open in China alone within three years, he said.
Okamura founded Reve21 in 1976 after inventing a hair tonic. Unlike domestic competitors Aderans Co. (8170) or Artnature Inc. (7823), Reve21 doesn’t offer hair transplants or wigs. The company, which employs about 800 people in Japan, provides counseling to find causes of hair loss and treats roots with techniques such as laser beams and herbal blended shampoos.
About 42 million Japanese men and women suffer from hair loss, a third of the population, Reve21 estimates. Japanese spend about 430 billion yen on hair care each year and the market is growing as the population ages, according to a study conducted by Yano Research Institute Ltd. from January to March in 2010.
A two-year course of treatment costs about 1.6 million yen, according to Reve21’s consulting center, which also advises members on how to improve eating habits and lifestyles to reduce stress that might contribute to hair loss.
Reve21 will start looking for the lead manager of its IPO in the “near future,” Okamura said. The firm had a profit in each of the past four years, and revenue totaled about 13 billion yen in the year ended September, he said.
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