In my previous post I looked at the growth drivers or otherwise at the top 5 largest Japanese companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – Yazaki, Sumitomo Electric Industries, NTT Data, Fujitsu and Canon. Overall employee growth for the largest Japanese companies in the region has been a healthy 22% over three years (see table below). But of the top 5, only NTT Data has beaten this average.
Yazaki and Sumitomo Electric Industries are automotive manufacturers who have consolidated their position as the biggest employers by further greenfield investments in new plants in Moldova, Serbia and Bulgaria over the past three years.
Of the other three, IT services company NTT Data has more than doubled in size over the past three years in the region through acquisitions. Fujitsu, however, has shrunk as it shifts from hardware manufacture and sales to IT services. Canon has grown by 15%, partly through taking on Toshiba Medical Systems.
Toyota group strength in Europe
The rest of the Top 30 shows a similar pattern – the automotive sector growing through greenfield investment in new or expanding plants, with the electronics/ICT sector growing through acquisition, or shrinking through consolidation and moving towards B2B in automotive and medical fields. Panasonic more than doubled in size in the region, through acquiring Spanish automotive company Ficosa and Belgian technology company Zetes.
Honda’s employee total in EMEA hardly changed over three years, Nissan’s only grew 2% whereas Toyota grew 16% – which shows something about the relative fortunes of those car brands in the region recently. Toyota will presumably expand further once it fully takes over the joint venture factory with PSA in the Czech Republic. Other Toyota group companies have also expanded – such as Denso, Toyota Industries and Toyota Tsusho via its French/African trading company CFAO acquired in 2012.
Bridgestone employee numbers have grown 43% partly through acquisitions in France but also expansion and greenfield investment in Eastern Europe and Russia. Japanese automotive glass manufacturers (who also make architectural glass) Asahi Glass grew 33% but Nippon Sheet Glass only expanded its employees by 4% – still recovering from the bad timing and heavy debts of its acquisition of Pilkington Glass in 2006.
Fastest growing, fastest shrinking companies
The fastest growing Japanese employer in the region was electric motor manufacturer Nidec – more than tripling in size over the past three years, having been on a spending spree around the world – with around 25 acquisitions, many of them in Europe, since 2015. Nidec is the only new entrant into the top 30 over the three years, pushing out Fast Retailing (owner of Uniqlo, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse TamTam etc). Fast Retailing grew too, opening new Uniqlo stores in Spain, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands in the past couple of years, with further stores to come in Italy and Denmark.
Sony and Ricoh have both shrunk by over 10%, however, with neither making any major acquisitions. Konica Minolta, which grew 25%, acquired various IT services providers in Germany, France, UK and the Czech Republic. Bubbling under the Top 30, at #31, NEC also grew rapidly, by 47%, after the acquisition of IT services companies like KMD in Denmark and Northgate Public Services in the UK.
European hot spots
Climate change has sparked investments from Mitsubishi Electric and Daikin in European air conditioning manufacturing and alternative energy production. Mitsubishi Electric has an air conditioning factory in Scotland employing 1000 people and expressed quite clearly its concerns regarding Brexit to a parliamentary committee in 2018 (by the way, I think there must be a typo in the submission, as it says 20% of its UK employees are EEA, which is considerably more than the figure of 13 they state). In December 2017 it announced it had started production of airconditioners at its new factory in Turkey.
So yes, it’s true that the UK has taken a ‘lion’s share’ of Japanese investment in recent years and therefore Japanese company employment in the EU. I estimate around 160,000 jobs out of 750,000 or so in the region (21%) are in the UK. But this share of investment is largely due to big ticket acquisitions by Japanese companies in the UK (SoftBank/ARM, MS Amlin etc) and also that investment in real estate is counted as “greenfield” investment.
Around a quarter of Japanese jobs in the region are in the automotive sector, and they’re moving eastwards
If we look at greenfield investment, largely in manufacturing, generating thousands of new jobs, with the exception of Hitachi’s rail factory in the UK, this has been going to Eastern Europe, CIS, Turkey and North Africa. The automotive sector is particularly key. I estimate around 250,000 of the 750,000 or so people employed by Japanese companies in the region are in the automotive sector. Brexit is giving extra impetus to automotive and other supply chain manufacturing jobs to accelerate their move eastwards.
Top 30 Japanese companies in Europe 2021
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