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Toyota Ireland: Looking ahead to an innovative future

Oct 20, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

Steve Tormey has long had a deep affection for Japan, dating back to when he lived there as a young child. That fondness for the country is evident in the way he has steered Toyota Ireland, a 100 percent Irish-owned distributor of the Japanese car brand, to great success, earning the moniker of Ireland’s most-loved car brand.

Early this year, Toyota Ireland - the auto giant’s Irish-owned exclusive distributor in Ireland -and Toyota Financial Services launched a joint venture, Toyota Financial Services Ireland (TFSI), the first such partnership with a local distributor that hopes to facilitate car ownership in the country.

Toyota Ireland CEO Steve Tormey

“We see this as a vote of confidence of Japan in Ireland. Our decades-long relationship with Toyota, like Ireland and Japan, continues to flourish because of the shared commitment to work together and our ambition to build a better world for our children’s children,” CEO Steve Tormey said.

“In Ireland, you can try something and you’ll know very quickly whether it will work or not. They’re all very supportive of what we’re trying to do. Ireland is demographically well represented and it’s the perfect location to trial new ventures. You will quickly find out if it’s worth taking to the rest of Europe,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tormey has remained steadfast in highlighting Toyota’s commitment to innovation and making life better for Irish families.

“We build cars with lower emissions to improve air quality for everyone and help create a better world for our children’s children. While it was tough going for several years, our self-charging hybrid cars now account for over 50 percent of our mix. People are more aware that we need to do something to help build a better future, and that hybrid cars are the future,” Tormey said.

With the growing popularity of its hybrid cars and the car-sharing Yuko program in Dublin, Toyota Ireland is eager to embrace more innovation coming from the Japanese headquarters.

“We’re totally committed to the future. We look forward to reaching our first 50 years in Ireland, and the next 50 years after that,” he said.

Bridging Ireland and Japan through food and drink

Oct 20, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

With about 10,000 kilometers separating Ireland and Japan, it would not be absurd to assume that the cultural divide between the two nations is just as wide. But delving deeper, the two countries have found shared values, particularly in the importance given to family and traditions.

Yamamori Group Founder Derek Ryan (left) and Director Graham Ryan (right)

“I always felt that the Irish are well matched with the Japanese, particularly with the people from Osaka,” said Yamamori Group Director and General Manager Graham Ryan, who worked in Japan for five years. Long before the ramen craze gripped the globe, Ryan’s father opened the group’s first ramen outlet in Dublin nearly 25 years ago.

“As a foreigner living in Osaka, I always felt that people over there showed genuine interest in my story. There is definitely a parallel between the free spirit of the Irish and the jovial nature of Osakans,” he added.

Since returning to Ireland, the younger Ryan has taken over the family business, overseeing four Japanese food outlets, which include the original ramen joint, a sushi restaurant and two busy bars, Yamamori Izakaya and Yamamori Tengu, which popularized sake among Dubliners.

As business continues to grow, the group has made a strong commitment to differentiate itself by securing its own importing license that allows them to source the best ingredients directly from Japan, as well as craft sake, craft beer and Japanese whisky.

Carrying on the tradition of introducing the latest Japanese flavors to Ireland and maintaining its standing as a melting pot of Irish and Japanese culture, Yamamori has partnered with Hitachino, one of Japan’s last independent craft breweries, and also opened a Japanese whisky bar in October.

“We have our own reserves of Japanese whisky that you probably can’t even buy in London or New York,” Ryan said.

“We are looking to expand — when and if the right opportunity were to arise,” Ryan added.

The signs are good for Rennicks

Oct 20, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

The products of Rennicks Group can be found on the roads in many different parts of the world — from traffic signs to license plates, road safety equipment and high-tech signage. Its imprint on the busy motorways of Ireland, the U.K., France and South Africa makes the company one of the top players in the industry.

Rennicks Group Managing Director Michael Flanagan (standing, far left), Group Technical Manager Sean Coffey and Commercial Manager Cathal D'Arcy with the Nippon Carbide Industries team led by Group Sales Manager Hiroshi Ata and Optical Products Development Division Manager Takeo Takamatsu

The success of Rennicks may be attributed to various factors over its 40-year history. But, its partnership with Nippon Carbide Industries Co. Inc., the Japanese giant that produces reflective films, chemicals and electronic materials, stands out as a very significant factor in its longevity. Nippon Carbide has developed a comprehensive portfolio of retroflective sheeting products for the global license plate, traffic sign and vehicle conspicuity markets.

For about four decades, the two companies have had an exclusive relationship that continues to generate mutual benefits.

“We are their value-added distributor. Our style of business is firmly based on values, wherein both sides respect each other and work toward a win-win situation. That’s what is important to us,” explained Managing Director Michael Flanagan.

To ensure a long-term future, the Dublin-based company is determined to adapt the latest technology and expand to other markets.

“We’re anticipating various opportunities for introducing this technology in the European Union,” said Flanagan, who will oversee the development of new products that can be tailored to the needs of its clients.

Ireland and Japan collaborate on biometric innovation

Oct 20, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

World-renowned for its technology talent and expertise, Ireland has been a great destination to set up international operations for European, American and Japanese companies over the last 20 years.

One such company, Daon, is a global leader in biometric technology, which identifies software users by their unique human factors that — unlike passwords — can never be lost, stolen or forgotten. The technology can be used to authenticate existing customers or digitally onboard new customers in a convenient and secure manner.

Daon CEO Tom Grissen

Thanks to Daon’s IdentityX platform, global financial service leaders like Visa, Mastercard, USAA and BNP Paribas have achieved what was once impossible — enabling strong security while maintaining the ease, simplicity and convenience that digital banking demands.

Led by CEO Tom Grissen, who was named by Forbes as one of “The Five CEOs Who Are Reinventing Industry Through Digital,” Daon was founded in Ireland, but has its headquarters in the U.S. and an ever-expanding presence across most of the world, including Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia, particularly in Japan, where it has forged major partnerships.

Through the technology giant NEC Corp., Daon delivers components into Japan’s Ministry of Justice immigration systems and embeds NEC components into many of its largest global programs.

In 2017, Daon launched a joint venture with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and NTT Data Corp. The project, called Polarify, was born out of the growing demand for biometric technology.

“Around 20 customers have already selected Polarify in less than 12 months of operation, and user feedback is positive. The business benefits for our customers are very strong as biometric authentication facilitates existing expensive business processes to be moved to much more cost-effective digital channels,” Polarify President and CEO Tomohiro Wada said.

In a study titled “The Business Case for Biometric Authentication,” business and research group Goode Intelligence found that biometrics led to Net Promoter Score improvements, security and compliance benefits, including Open Banking and Payment Services Directive and, most notably, much lower customer acquisition, operational and system costs.

As worldwide adoption of biometric technology continues to accelerate, Daon — with the help of its customers and partners — will be working hard to make the future both secure and convenient.

Providing flexible solutions in Ireland's growing global marketplace

Oct 20, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

AbaKus Outsource Ltd. has proven that companies can enter Ireland’s fast-moving marketplace without having to incur the traditionally high overhead investment cost. Since 1999, it has partnered with the Dublin operations of Hitachi High Technologies Group providing them with accounting, payroll and administration support.

Abakus Outsource Operations Director Elizabeth Kelly (right) with CEO Kevin O'Boyle

Thanks to that partnership, Hitachi was able to focus on the critical engineering services delivered to their customers, as AbaKus looked after the in-country compliance requirements and international reporting needs of the group. The formula was so successful that, 10 years ago, Hitachi assigned AbaKus similar responsibilities for its Israel operations. Meanwhile, AbaKus has developed its business to support other overseas companies with similar services.

CEO Kevin O’Boyle attributes AbaKus’ success to its unwavering commitment to deliver suitable solutions and high-quality service: “We are flexible and focus on our clients’ needs. We listen and serve.” Together with Operations Director Elizabeth Kelly, O’Boyle leads a highly responsive team in tackling the challenges of its clients across multiple time zones.

O’Boyle is confident that AbaKus will continue to thrive through its focus on excellent service and flexibility.

“We will only do this by carefully listening to our clients. I will always value the friends that I have made in Hitachi and the guidance they have given me. I am proud that we have been able to serve them and hopefully, we’ve done a good job.” he said.

With its proven track record and outward focus, AbaKus Outsource is bound to impress more Japanese companies and support their new businesses in Ireland.

A preferred legal advisor of Japanese companies

Oct 20, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

A&L Goodbody has had long, established relationships with Japanese companies investing in Ireland since the 1980s. In the past, the law firm assisted Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and Minebea Mitsumi Inc., among others, in setting up their operations. It also acted for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. on its acquisition of RBS Aviation Capital in 2012 and advised Sumitomo Corp. on its 751 million euro acquisition of Fyffes Group in 2017.

Aside from providing corporate advice, A&L Goodbody also advises many Japanese clients on Irish employment, pension matters and energy and infrastructure projects.

Japanese financiers that sought the services of the firm on lending and leasing transactions in Ireland include Marubeni Corp., Sumitomo Corp., Itochu Corp., Kanematsu Corp., Ryoshin, MCAP Inc., Orix Corp., Tokyo Century Corp., FPG Investment, Tokyo Star Bank Ltd., Development Bank of Japan Inc., ITC AeroLeasing and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. It has also gained a global reputation for its expertise on aviation and asset finance.

“Through our extensive experience in acting for Japanese investors and companies in Ireland, A&L Goodbody has developed a deep understanding of Japanese business culture and Japanese investors’ expectations of their Irish legal advisers. We look forward to continuing to work with some of Japan’s leading corporations in assisting and advising on all matters related to their investment opportunities in Ireland,” said Chairman Catherine Duffy.

Ireland 2018 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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