Top Companies Report

5. Kao

August 1, 2014

Sales: $8.4 billion

Key Personnel: Michitaka Sawada, president and chief executive officer; Toshiharu Numata, senior managing executive officer; Masumi Natsusaka, president, beauty care cosmetics; Katsuhiko Yoshida, president, consumer products; Yoshinori Takema, senior vice president, research and development.

Major Products: Beauty Care—Sofina, Kanebo, Molton Brown, Bioré, Jergens, Asience, John Frieda, Goldwell; Fabric and Home Care—Attack, Haiter, Magiclean; Human Health Care—Pyoura and Clear Clean oral care, Bub bath additives.

New Products: Jergens Natural Glow, Ultra Attack Neo, Bath Magiclean Aroma Deodorizer Plus and Toilet Magiclean Aroma Deodorizer Plus, John Frieda styling products.

Comments: Corporate sales rose 7.7%. Sales of beauty products increased 6% to $5.4 billion. The company credited the gains, in part, to the success of Sofina Primavista makeup and Grace Sofine skin care, as well as Kate makeup and Allie UV care. Results were also helped along by the success of Bioré cleansers throughout Asia and higher demand for Goldwell professional hair care products in the Americas and Europe. A year ago, the company issued a recall of skin brighteners that contain Rhododenol after consumers complained of white blotches appearing on their skin.

Fabric and home care sales increased 6.5% to more than $2.9 billion, as Japanese consumers warmed to the idea of saving time and resources by using Neo laundry products. Kao also rolled out a new refill for Attack that saves even more resources. Home care sales improved, thanks to the rollout of Bath Magiclean Aroma Deodorizer Plus and Toilet Magiclean Aroma Deodorizer Plus, as well as the introduction of a 3D adsorbent dryer sheet under the Quickle Wiper brand.

For the first quarter of 2014, sales surged 18% to $3.3 billion. Beauty care sales increased 11.9% and fabric and home care sales jumped more than 23%. The company noted that the Japanese household and personal care products market grew 17% on a value basis, following a bottoming out of consumer prices. Similarly, the cosmetics market in Japan rose 22%. Sales of Kanebo Cosmetics rose 18%, even as the company continued to recall products that contain Rhododenol.