Dissolution of the NEBA

I At a party held on April 21 following a meeting to adopt a resolution on the dissolution of the Nippon Electric Big-Stores Association (NEBA), the speech by WOWWOW Chairman Shoji Sakuma was especially impressive. When Mr. Sakuma was working in the household electric appliance sales headquarters of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. the NEBA was really at its height of prosperity, with its founders displaying vigorous leadership. That was the zenith of the NEBA.

When Mr. Sakuma reminisced about how the NEBA founders had worked hard to build up the organization and guide the household electric appliance industry into a golden age, he must have actually felt a deep indignation that the NEBA was now being dissolved and was sending out a word of encouragement to second-generation managers to do their best. That was the substance of his speech. Mr. Sakuma usually speaks in a gentle tone, but on this occasion his words were clear, strong, deep, and heavy.

In addition, GIGAS K’s Denki Corp. President Shuichi Kato spoke about how the NEBA’s dissolution was the result of the fact that it had been unable to realize the solution of problems even though they had been pointed out and that it had reached a limit. Mr. Kato’s managerial philosophy indeed is one of “satisfaction for all”(satisfaction for the seller, satisfaction for the buyer, and satisfaction for the world). With a distinctive development of large-scale stores, GIGAS is hot on the heels of such giants as Yamada and Yodobashi and has gained excellent trust from users. In view of his position, therefore, the impact of Mr. Kato’s speech was very powerful indeed.

The curtain has come down on the NEBA, and a new distribution war has been accelerated. At the same time, though, I think it can also be said that we have entered an age of local specialty stores. Instead of competing with the large discount stores in terms of price and product lineup, these local specialty stores conversely seek coexistence and coprosperity through parasite business and are endeavoring to enhance added value. Such a business style is being welcomed by users and will no doubt gain further strength in the future.

Second-generation managers engaging in highly efficient business in the local community are appearing as well, and much is expected of them. Users might make their purchases in discount stores, but when it comes to using them, they very often have to rely on individualistic local stores that have a wealth of knowledge, active stance, and cutting-edge sense; the same is true in metropolitan areas, too. That is the reality of the present situation.

Meanwhile, there is also a tendency for the mammoth discount stores to use the local community stores as satellites. While the final battle among the discount stores themselves will further intensify and a distribution map of their power will take shape, I firmly believe that the local specialty stores without doubt will create a new business pattern corresponding to this situation. However strong discount stores may be, it will be difficult for them to maintain a share of 50%. Anyway, users have to do their shopping somewhere.

To change the subject, on June 17 our company will hold the Visual Grand-Prix 2005 Summer with the aim of realizing the constructive development of the industry. Although it remains uncertain what outstanding products will be chosen, our purpose essentially is to boost actual sales in stores. As a mark of reliability, the VGP mark gives customers a sense of safety when they are making decisions on what products to buy, so we hope that stores will use it as a tool for giving a push from behind. Voting stores in the Visual Grand-Prix automatically receive the VGP mark data, but other retail stores can also obtain them, so please get in touch with our magazine's editorial department if necessary. Also, it is easy to create an Internet link with the Phile Web, so please make use of this as well. The Visual Grand-Prix 2005 Summer will be a powerful backup for your summer sales campaign, so it is certainly something to look forward to.