Sales: $3.3 billion
Key Personnel: Itsuo Hama, president and chief executive officer; Yuji Watari, senior managing executive officer; Masazumi Kikukawa, managing executive officer; Kenjiro Kobayashi, senior executive officer; Toshio Kakui, senior executive officer; Takeo Sakakibara, senior executive officer.
Major Products: Oral care, skin care, beauty products, toiletries, fabric care, home care and household cleaners.
New Products: Bright W liquid oxygen laundry bleach; Kaori to Deodorant no Soflan fabric softener; Hadakara body wash; Shield Nyusankin bacteria supplement, Kurozu Ninniku supplement.
Comments: Times are good at Lion. President Itsuo Hama noted that during 2016, raw material costs declined, the yen strengthened, personal consumption recovered and international markets were solid. In this environment, the company set a new sales record, and operating income rose nearly 50%. Domestic consumer product sales rose 5.3% last year, while Lion’s international business increased less than 2%. The company noted that profitability improved due to strong sales of high-value-added products and the streamlining of competition-related expenses in Japan as well as a solid performance in the personal care field overseas.
Hama credits, in part, Lion’s V-2 Plan (Vision 2020 Part 2). Under the plan, Lion continued to implement a range of measures based on four strategies: qualitative growth of the domestic business; quantitative international expansion; development of new business value and enhancement of organizational learning capabilities.
Internationally, sales were steady in Lion’s mainstay countries, including Thailand and Malaysia in Southeast Asia, and South Korea and China in Northeast Asia. Lion executives feel so strongly about their business prospects in Thailand that the company is building a 1 billion baht factory in Chon Buri province which will produce home care products and detergents. Elsewhere, Lion is determined to expand in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Outside Southeast Asia, Lion is expanding in the Middle East, particularly in Iran.
High-value-added products, such as toothpastes and toothbrushes in the oral care field and antipyretic analgesics and eye drops in the pharmaceutical products field, saw strong sales. Furthermore, Top Super Nanox super-concentrated liquid laundry detergent, Hadakara body wash and other new products received favorable consumer reviews, contributing to segment performance.
It’s all part of a broad strategy to become a next-generation health care company. For as Hama pointed out, in oral care, recent research has identified a close connection between the hygiene of a person’s mouth and their physical health.
“As Lion seeks to become a next-generation healthcare company, I think investors can look forward to dramatic growth and a future filled with potential,” predicted Hama.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2017, domestic consumer product sales are forecast to grow 1.0%, and international sales are expected to rise 6.8%. Overall net sales are forecast to grow 2.4% year-on-year to ¥405 billion.
In 2018, Lion will announce its growth strategy for 2021.