Case Studies of Business Recovery in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2019-2020

03basic things about our business.”The biggest factor behind the success was the relationships that were forged. “If a situation emerged where someone would say we don’t want to share information with this or that company, everything would end then and there. We have gotten to this point after building on a process over several years from those council meetings early on. You have to deliver that level of commitment to achieve a joint plant in a true sense.” The bonds that cannot be forged overnight make the virtual joint plant possible.Moving from competition against each other to compet-ing together and pursuing fur-ther challenges in new territoryWith the hit product Ishinomaki Kinka Chazuke functioning as the trigger, orders increased for other products carried by Ishinomaki Umaimono. While performance was strong as a company, the question was what to do with Ishinomaki Umaimono Marché. During a meeting to discuss this at the Ishinomaki General Fisheries Promotion Center, it became apparent that there was space available on the first floor. While the location was far from the station and there is little traffic in that area, it had a large car park, was situated close to the member companies’ plants, and the rent was inexpensive. Marché was relocated in July 2019. As expected, attracting customers to the new location is a tough prospect, but by making it easier for the business partners of each company to go to the store when visiting for business discussions, it began to play an even greater role as an antenna shop showcasing the products of the 10 companies. However, the surrounding roads were still in the process of redevelop-ment, and the location makes it difficult for regular customers and tourists to visit. “This isn’t a problem we can do something about on our own,” explains Sato, adding that assistance from the government is needed, such as incorporating visits into sightseeing tours that combine tours of the Ishinomaki fish market, festivals and events. “We’ve come this far, but we still need effort. When all of the 10 companies involved recover to how they were before the disaster struck, we can say that we have truly succeeded,” says Sato.In January 2020, the unified brand is set to unveil its second product, the Ishinomaki Kinka Kamameshi (pot rice) series. Each of the 10 companies assembled under the “Ishinomaki Umaimono” slogan will con-tinue to work with one another to develop new products and expand the possibilities of nationwide sales channels, shifting from the era of competing against one another to competing together. The challenge taken on by Ishinomaki Umaimono may point the way not only to marine product processors but to the course taken by Japanese industry in general.Ishinomaki fish marketAfter being completely destroyed by the tsunami, the fish market was rebuilt and entered full operation in September 2015. It is an HACCP-compliant advanced hygiene management facility, and the length of the building roof that combines three freight handling facilities is the longest in Japan, at 876 meters.Ishinomaki Umaimono Co., Ltd. 12The Ishinomaki Kinka series of hit products from Ishinomaki Umaimono 3Ishinomaki Umaimono Marché, located inside the Ishinomaki General Fisheries Promotion Center. 4View of Ishinomaki Fishing Port, where Ishinomaki Umaimono Marché is located 56Inside the Ishinomaki Umaimono Marché store, signs and panels expressing the bonds forged between the ten companies are on display 78With a strong hand-made feel, the products from the ten companies are laid out in the store like a specialty store of Ishinomaki foods47865A unified brand shines underreinforced bonds.There is a high threshold for any business collaboration because of a leakage risk of company’s know-how. Under these circum-stances the wise saying I would like everyone to hear is “Things that can be easily repli-cated once disclosed can’t be called a trade secret.” Bonds that are woven from adversity feast on “Umaimono” (tasty things).Points for successWisdom by 10 companies isinvincible. Take on challenges from a high perspective.For ordinary business mergers even though there are expectations that 1+1=3, there are many cases where this doesn’t even reach 2. I expect Ishinomaki Umaimono will be in a superposition if cooperation of 10 companies equals 15 or 20 and broadened perspectives create synergistic value.Points of expectationComments and evaluationby Editorial board memberYUGE ToruE13

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