Although Japanese business people tend to think of Germany as being a fellow “monozukuri” (manufacturing/craftsmanship) country, there are actually proportionally fewer (28%) Japanese companies which are manufacturing in Germany than there are in the UK (36%).*
Of course this has a lot to do with the fact that Nissan, Honda and Toyota have factories in the UK and do not have any plants in Germany – as well as the supply chain of manufacturers that they have attracted, many of whom set up production to be as close as possible to their customers.
The biggest sector for Japanese companies in Germany is wholesale. Automotive wholesale is playing a role here, as Japanese suppliers try to diversify away from supplying Japanese car makers and target European car brands as well. It has been noticeable that one reaction to Brexit by UK based Japanese automotive suppliers is to open a branch or subsidiary in Germany and/or transfer customer accounts and sales functions to those branches.
Like the Top 30 in the UK, the biggest Japanese companies in Germany have grown through acquisition. IT services dominate the top spots with NTT at number 1 thanks to its acquisition of Itelligence, Cirquent and Net mobile, as well as Dimension Data.
Fujitsu – the biggest Japanese company in the UK – is the second biggest in Germany. Fujitsu bought out Siemen’s share of their joint venture in 2008. Fujitsu is about to shut down the last remaining computer factory in Europe – which was in Augsburg, and around 1800 jobs will be lost across Europe.
Duncan Tait, SVP and head of EMEIA (Fujitsu’s own regional acronym – Europe, Middle East, India and Africa) somewhat disingenuously claimed on the BBC news recently that Fujitsu’s regional headquarters had been in the UK for 20 years and that “there was zero intention of moving out of London” like Sony just announced. Actually it is Fujitsu Services that has been headquartered in London, with some offices in Europe, whereas Fujitsu Technology Solutions, the hardware side, was headquartered in Munich, with a rather more extensive network of operations across Europe.
But as Fujitsu shifts, like many other Japanese electronics companies, to IT services and B2B, so the locus of power has to shift to where the customers are. Over 80% of Sony Europe’s turnover was to non-UK EU countries, but this is not the case for Fujitsu Services. Because of Fujitsu Services’ legacy of acquiring ICL in 1990, the UK public sector is still a key customer. So it’s no wonder Tait does not intend to shift out of London any time soon.
More recent acquisitions in Germany by Japanese companies do include a fair number of manufacturers – Mori Seiki has finally consummated its marriage with Gildemeister, Lixil acquired Grohe, Musashi Seimitsu acquired Johann Hay and Nidec continues on its overseas M&A rampage. As you can see from the ranking below, Japan’s appreciation of German monozukuri continues.
Rudlin Consulting can develop a more detailed, customised list of Japanese companies in Europe (for a fee). Please contact us with an outline of your requirements.
*2018 Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs – who identify 1814 Japanese companies (this is very loose, they include branches, joint ventures and companies established by Japanese entrepreneurs in Germany) . There are 21 categories including “other”. For Germany the top 4 are wholesale/retail 31% (of 1814), manufacturing 28%, hospitality 7%, IT 6%. UK is 36% manufacturing, 13% wholesale/retail, 8% financial, 8% “other”.
Top 30 Japanese Companies in Germany April 2021
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