Bandai and Namco strengthen sales overseas

The president of Japan's largest toymaker discusses upcoming business strategy, competition from Tomy and Takara.

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TOKYO--In an interview with the Japanese Yomiuri Shinbun, Bandai president Takeo Takasu revealed that plans are under way to strengthen Bandai and Namco’s sales in the overseas market during the next three to five years. The two companies will officially merge together as Namco Bandai Holdings in September, making it the second-biggest game and toy company in Japan behind Sega Sammy Holdings.

The companies aim to raise their overseas sales ratio to 50 percent of their total annual revenue. Currently, sales in the overseas market accounts for 18 percent of Bandai's annual revenue and 20 percent of Namco's annual revenue.

As a first step, Bandai has taken advantage of Namco's distribution network and facilities and has begun selling its Gashapon capsule toys in roughly 200 locations in America. Aside from selling their products nationwide in specialty shops, the companies are also considering to further expand sales by making their wares available in potential retailers that have been overlooked in the past, such as drugstores and convenience stores.

"We plan to raise our overseas sales ratio to 50 percent [of our total revenue], and we are aiming to become a global enterprise. After our merger, we will become a company that the world has never seen before. We will deal with anything from games, toys, [anime] movies, stationeries, to amusement facilities. We will offer a wide choice of options for our customers when it comes to video games, ranging from the high-tech next-generation game consoles to mobile phones," stated Takasu.

A major rival for Bandai in the future will be Japanese toy and game makers Tomy and Takara, who last month announced that they will be merging, as of March 1, 2006, into a single company named Takara Tomy Corporation. When Takasu was asked if Bandai will still be able to beat Tomy and Takara's sales after the two toymakers merge, he was optimistic and explained that his company's synergy with Namco will be no match for its renovated rivals.

"We will make Namco's popular characters, such as Pac-Man, into toys and stationeries. We will [continue to] stand in the top position in Japan," stated Takasu.

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