Hair clinic operator Reve21 Co. shortlisted four candidates to replace founder and CEO Katsumasa Okamura and prepare the company for an initial public offering and expansion overseas.
The four candidates, including former Toyota Motor Corp. employee Jun Iwata, have already been hired from 500 external applicants, Okamura, 67, said in an interview Monday in Tokyo.
Osaka-based Reve21 plans to open its first overseas business in Shanghai by Dec. 31 and list on exchanges in Tokyo and Hong Kong as early as 2015, he said.
Reve21 is among the many domestic companies looking abroad amid the stagnant domestic economy. The hair clinic, which has doubled its customers to 145,000 in six years, will start business in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and China, Okamura said.
“We can’t hope for much from Japan’s economy, so the rest of Asia will be a driver for growth,” said Okamura, who plans to retire after choosing his successor late next year. He expects the candidates “to push our global expansion and beef up management to prepare for the listings.”
Iwata, 42, spent more than a decade at Toyota, where he was involved in international product planning and marketing.
“Iwata has excellent insight and footwork,” Okamura said.
The other candidates are Makoto Nomura, 52, who had a stint at cosmetics maker Kao Corp., Hiroto Muramatsu, 48, who worked at East Japan Railway Co., and Masaki Yamamoto, 50, a former International Business Machines Corp. employee.
The CEO will be paid at least ¥30 million a year, Okamura said.
The hair clinic aims to open about 100 outlets in China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan in five years, compared with the 96 currently operating in Japan, Okamura said. A total of 50 shops will open in China alone within three years, he said.
Okamura founded Reve21 in 1976 after inventing a hair tonic. Unlike domestic competitors Aderans Co. or Artnature Inc., Reve21 doesn’t offer hair transplants or wigs. The company, which employs about 800 domestic employees, provides counseling to find the causes of hair loss and treats roots with techniques such as laser beams and herbal blended shampoos.
About 42 million Japanese men and women suffer from hair loss, a third of the population, Reve21 estimates. Japanese spend about ¥430 billion on hair care each year and the market is growing as the population ages, according to a study conducted by Yano Research Institute Ltd. from January to March 2010.
A two-year course of treatment costs about ¥1.6 million, according to Reve21′s consulting center, which also advises members on how to improve eating habits and lifestyles to reduce stress that might contribute to hair loss.
The company will start looking for the lead manager of its IPO in the “near future,” Okamura said. The firm made a profit in each of the past four years, and revenue totaled about ¥13 billion in the year that ended in September, he said.