Business / Corporate

Japan store operator Cainz to set up fund to invest in AI tech in Silicon Valley

JIJI

Do-it-yourself store operator Cainz Corp. will set up a fund in Silicon Valley to invest in startups with artificial intelligence and other technologies, according to President Masayuki Takaya.

“We’ll create a foothold in the U.S. West Coast to tap technologies of local startups,” Takaya said in a recent interview.

Cainz will launch the $10 million fund later this month, hoping to gain access to sophisticated technologies in a bid to develop smartphone-based services and rationalize its store operations.

It is unusual for a Japanese retailer to create an investment fund for such purposes abroad.

Cainz will select businesses it will invest in by teaming up with a U.S. investment company that has a deep knowledge of startups with advanced technologies good for use in retailing, Takaya said.

Over the coming three years, Cainz will invest ¥10 billion, or about a half of its total investments planned for the period, in technology-related fields, according to Takaya.

He also said the company will start a service this year allowing shoppers to easily find products and check stocks at retail outlets through a smartphone app.

Takaya is the first Cainz president from outside the founding family. Before he took up the post in March, he served as president of machinery parts trader Misumi Group Inc.