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Comvita Makes Gains in Japan

Comvita Makes Gains in Japan

Comvita's Japan-based operation has climbed into profit ahead of forecast.

According to Scott Coulter, Manager Consumer Division, while the profit in Japan is yet not huge it has come earlier than expected and points to stronger returns in the future.

"Anyone who deals in Japan will know that to set up there in 2002 and be in the black in 2005 is a very positive result."

Comvita's strategy in Japan is to build relationships directly with the consumer rather than deal through the often arduous and difficult distribution channels. This has been achieved by marketing through a mail order database.

"Japan has a wealthy consumer population that understands e-based products. It's an ideal market for our product ranges."

The main products sold are manuka honey and propolis.

Coulter says Comvita is one of only a few New Zealand companies that has been able to successfully market directly under its own brand into the Japanese market.

He says they knew they had to get control of their own marketing in all markets and a lot of effort has been put into getting offices and people set up in Japan, Hong Kong, China and Australia.

But he says all of that costs and takes time.

"One of the keys is that we have Japanese staff who are very experienced and highly skilled. As our understanding of them has improved so has the flow of business."

Coulter says Japan will contribute significantly to Comvita's revenues in the future.

"Margins are strong in Japan and we are now moving ahead with increasing marketing resources and expanding our office space."

He says they've been working to a very specific plan which is focused on controlled growth – in particular focusing on quality business with higher profit margins.

"Comvita is the sort of company that does things quite deliberately with a willingness to invest now for gain later so it is gratifying to see it begin to come together."

Comvita has received assistance from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise in establishing its Japanese operation.

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