KOKUYO's Historical Episode

Distribution / Sales Network

1st General Meeting of National Association of KOKUYO Specialty Shops (1957)

PHOTO : 1st General Meeting of National Association of KOKUYO Specialty Shops (1957)

General Shops – KOKUYO's Unique Distribution Channel

Itō Shōten in 1948 (Tokyo).
Itō Shōten in 1948 (Tokyo). Two years after
this photo was taken, the shop became the
first KOKUYO specialized distributor shop.

As KOKUYO grew as a company focused on trust and high quality products at low prices, a distribution network naturally developed with likeminded wholesalers and retailers in the company's vicinity. The Tokyo KOKUYO Association (Tokyo Kokuyo-Kai) established in 1924 was a part of this. An unprecedented disaster, the Great Kanto Earthquake, struck the preceding year, devastating local paper product manufacturers and flooding the Kansai region with demand for paper products. KOKUYO founder Zentarō Kuroda, however, maintained a stance on supporting disaster recovery by conducting even stricter product inspection than usual while keeping prices low. This dedication of his won the sympathy and trust of 12 local wholesalers who assembled to form the association. Specialized shops that exclusively handled KOKUYO products started to appear throughout Japan after the WWI (*1), and 20 such specialized shops got together to form the Nationwide KOKUYO Association of specialized shops in 1957. The number of specialized shops, later renamed "general shops," kept growing and reached 66 in the 1990s. It was a unique distribution system that could not be seen anywhere else, with each shop functioning like a KOKUYO branch office representing its respective district despite the fact that there were almost no capital ties between the shops and KOKUYO.

An unprecedented retail shop association that ranks its clients

The existence of the so-called "retail shop association" called KJM (KOKUYO Jewelry Members) is worthy of mention as part of the distribution network's history. The retail shop association in itself was nothing particularly new, but KOKUYO's organization was shocking at the time in that it was not simply aimed at the promotion of friendly ties, but also that it was a "membership system that ranked retail shops according to their trade volume and paid incentive remuneration based on this." In fact, as it could not be denied that it was possible, this unprecedented experiment in a manufacturer ranking (*2) the very retailers that are its clients might spark a backlash, heated debates occurred even within KOKUYO for some time after the idea was presented. In the end, although then-president Shōnosuke decided to hold the 1st KJM Conference in Kyōto in 1968, such concerns proved unnecessary as the retailers actually took it favourably. Ever since, KJM has been a venue where retailers throughout Japan develop themselves through friendly competition and has contributed greatly to the reinforcement and expansion of KOKUYO's sales network.

(*1) The first such exclusive specialized shop was Itō Shōten K.K. Its president, Mr Itō, had been a friend of Zentarō Kuroda for over 20 years since before WWII. He sympathized with KOKUYO's management principles, and the company, which had flourished as a mid-level sales agent for multiple manufacturers until then, was re-established as a specialized distributor shop exclusively handling KOKUYO products in 1950.
(*2) The ranking was made in two categories – paper products and furniture – with ranks given the names of precious stones such as emerald, diamond, sapphire, and opal, based on trade volume.

List of KOKUYO’s Historical Accounts

  • Cover
  • Japanese-style account ledger
  • Western-style account ledgers
  • Stationery pad with high quality paperboard
  • bielomatik
  • From paper to metal
  • Company's building-wide office showrooms
  • Campus Note
  • Survey Field Notebook
  • Museum display cases
  • Goods distribution
  • Distribution and sales network
  • Furniture production
  • Universal design
  • Company name and trademark
  • KOKUYO's own steel product plant
  • ECIFFO
  • Eco tube file
  • Dot liner
  • Our Eco-X Mark initiative
  • Testament kits
  • Harinacs
  • Towards Asia
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