Happy Bears is aptly named. The Tokyo-based provider of same-day domestic services – from cooking and cleaning to dog-walking – recently took on its 4,300th registered maid. Backed by bank loans and a sprinkling of cash from private equity, the 13-year-old company increased sales by a fifth last year, to 1.5 billion yen ($19 million).
“We’ve got no problems with access to funds,” says managing director Yuki Takahashi, a former head of marketing at a Japanese trading house in Hong Kong. “We’re growing as fast as we can.”
It is one of the winners in Japan Inc’s twin-track economy. As shown by the central bank’s much-watched Tankan survey of business sentiment, published on Monday, large export-oriented companies are continuing to languish, suffering from a persistently strong yen and patchy external demand.
Just 13 percent of big manufacturers – classified as having equity capital of more than Y1bn – said current business conditions were “favorable”. Only 11 per cent expected favorable conditions for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
Smaller companies focused on domestic demand are generally doing better.Page 1 of 4 | Next Page