Business

Huis Ten Bosch boss eyes park's salvation

SASEBO, Nagasaki Pref. (Kyodo) Daisuke Takeuchi, the newly appointed CEO of amusement park operator Huis Ten Bosch Co., had never visited a theme park before being named acting administrator of the firm here in December.

“I visited only Osaka Expo (in 1970) when I was a student,” said Takeuchi, 56.

The former senior executive at Nomura Securities Co. had been with Japan’s largest securities firm for about 30 years, and was posted in London, Paris and other European cities for more than 10 years, working in the investment banking business.

The Tokyo native was chief of Nomura’s Asian section until December, when he was appointed as an acting administrator of the cash-strapped theme park.

Huis Ten Bosch, modeled after a Dutch town, opened in March 1992.

In February 2003, it filed for court protection from creditors under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law, leaving 230 billion yen in debts.

In December, Nomura Principal Finance Co., an investment arm of Nomura Holdings Inc., signed an agreement to rescue the bankrupt theme park operator after the Tokyo District Court granted its request for revival.

After conducting a painstaking investigation into the theme park’s facilities, Takeuchi concluded that Huis Ten Bosch is not just a theme park, but a “unique facility with no other model in the world.”

He says he is now ready to “create a new resort culture.”

Public relations activities nationwide and new events at the park have stemmed the decline in visitor numbers, but the stigma of bankruptcy has not faded.

“What is important is how to promote the park’s attractiveness to the public and how to raise the will of employees to satisfy customers,” he said.

Under a revival plan approved in June, the company hopes to return to profitability in fiscal 2006, and plans to pay off about 20 billion yen in debts by 2015 with help from Nomura Principal Finance.

At its peak, the theme park attracted 3.8 million visitors annually.

The park must build facilities that will satisfy visitors of all ages, Takeuchi said.

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