The total number of people employed by the 30 largest Japanese companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) has grown over the past year – despite the pandemic – but only by 3% overall. The top 30 employ around 557,000 people between them in the EMEA region, representing around 14% of their total global workforce. The average masks a wide range, from only 6% of the workforce (Itochu, TDK) through to 45% (Nippon Sheet Glass/Pilkington).
The company group which grew the most over 2020-21 was Hitachi (by 82%), now the fourth biggest Japanese employer in Europe, with over 32,000 employees, due to their acquisition of ABB Power Grids, now Hitachi Energy. The Hitachi group have almost tripled in size in Europe since 2014/5, despite various divestments, due not only to Hitachi Energy but also the growth of Hitachi Rail.
We estimate Outsourcing (does pretty much what it ‘says on the tin‘) has also grown considerably, but as they do not publish employee figures by region in their annual report it’s hard to be accurate. It acquired CPL, Otto Works, Orizon and other recruitment and staffing companies over the past few years, and is now the 11th biggest Japanese employer in the region. Their rival Recruit also grew considerably, thanks to their acquisition of Indeed in 2019.
Toyota Tsusho, the trading company within the Toyota group, has also grown both in the past year (21%) and over the past few years (52%), since the acquisition of French company CFAO in 2016 and consequent expansion in Africa. It is now the sixth largest Japanese employer in EMEA.
Fujitsu shrank the most from 2020-2021, by 20%, but this was largely to do with India being removed from what was the EMIEA region. Since 2014/5 Fujitsu has restructured, with fewer people employed in Western Europe and more more employees added in global delivery centres in Eastern Europe.
Sony has also been through restructuring in the region, and now has fewer than 10,000 employees, compared to over 13,000 six years’ ago. Other companies that have shrunk both over the past year and over the past six years are Ricoh, Nissan and Honda. Honda will no doubt drop out of the Top 30 for 2021/22 once the closure of the Swindon UK plant shows in their annual report.
The Top 3
The two largest Japanese employers in the region, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Yazaki, have dominated throughout the past six years – both manufacture labour intensive wire harnesses, with factories in North Africa and Eastern Europe. SEI grew by a third since 2014/5 and Yazaki has cut back in the past few years and has more or less the same number of employees as six years ago.
NTT and its subsidiary NTT Data overtook Fujitsu a couple of years’ ago and are now the third largest employer in the region, having more than doubled in size thanks to the acquisitions of Dimension Data, Keane and Dell Services in recent years.
The new entrant
The new entrant into the Top 30 for 2021 was trading company Mitsubishi Corporation, who expanded following their acquisition of Dutch energy company ENECO in 2019. They displaced bathroom fittings company LIXIL whose employee numbers decreased after their divestment of Italian company Permasteelisa.
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