With its milestone 130th anniversary in 2020 fast approaching, Itoki continues to strive daily to realize its vision of contributing to the global society as a highly profitable company on the cutting-edge of the times. In the medium-term management plan leading up to the 130th anniversary, Itoki includes the catchphrase “Work-Style Reform 130.” In the following interview, Itoki's president Yoshiro Hirai sheds some light on his visions of Itoki based on this idea of work-style reform.

The interview itself was held in March 2018.

Q1

Please share your thoughts on Itoki's social responsibility.

At Itoki, we operate under a corporate concept of “For lively people, and a green Earth.” This concept embodies our purpose and mission of operations, which is to realize a richer world by offering new value to individuals, business, and the societies they exist in. Meanwhile, as a major premise to our business operations, we also strive to address environmental issues in a positive manner and to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society.

In general, people will spend the majority of their lives working. With Itoki taking the lead in designing that “work-style,” we hope to bring about improved motivation and satisfaction, which in turn helps revitalize companies and society. With this goal in mind, last year we set “We Design Tomorrow. We Design WORK-Style.” as our mission statement.
Never before has how people work been such a central focus. Because Itoki's main business goals will lead to the realization of “work-style reform,” which is a social issue, I believe that these actions will also be closely intertwined with corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
As an introduction to a few aspects of these goals, Itoki's “Workcise” initiative focuses on health management issues by addressing office worker health, while its “Econifa” initiative utilizes local materials to help combat domestic forest degradation issues. Other initiatives include making Itoki patents readily available, performing “business matching” to help revitalize the economy so that companies throughout the region can thrive, and by sharing our corporate ambition through a CSW (corporate social will) project to create value for society, all in an effort to revitalize the region and to create socially aware businesses.
Going forward, Itoki will continue to focus our efforts on the concept of “We Design Tomorrow. We Design WORK-Style.” And through the improvements in productivity and creativity of workers, we hope to bring about even more creative innovations in the future.

Q2

Tell us about Itoki's “Diversity & Inclusion Vision.”

Looking at the meaning of “diversity” itself--which is the mutual recognition and acceptance of a variety of existences--we see that, more than being Itoki employees, we are all members of society, and it is important to cherish that idea. I think it is important for companies to embrace the idea of diversity in order to help the company grow. It is important to create new ideas by incorporating a wide variety of unique and novel perspectives into operations and everyday business. This then allows for changes to take hold. The idea of changing behavior by accepting diversity is utilized in various business settings, and this opens the door to innovation. And that is what Itoki's goal should be.

Yoshiro Hirai

At Itoki, our mantra is, “We Design Tomorrow. We Design WORK-Style.” We believe that one of the best ways to offer new value to customers is to ensure understanding and acceptance of the significance of diversity.

Q3

What are the most important measures included in Itoki's 2020 Medium-Term Business Plan?

As we approach 2020, which marks Itoki's 130th anniversary, we have designated “Work-Style Reform 130” as the keyword for this mid-term plan. By implementing company-wide reforms in work-style, and by doing so, we hope to provide value to our customers which will, in turn, lead to growth. The knowledge and experience we will gain through challenging in-house work-style reform can then be utilized in our proposals for designing tomorrow's work-style for our customers. This will allow us to help create new value on a global scale. This point is what I focused my attention on in devising the new medium-term management plan.

In fall, Itoki will open our new Tokyo office in Nihonbashi, bringing together some 800 employees in the Tokyo area. This office will serve as the main stage for Itoki's own work-style reform, where we will bring together and implement various initiatives. Utilizing not only the successes but also the failures will give us the advantage of being able to share proposals based on real experiences in our effort to reform the work-style of our customers.

Q4

Tell us about Itoki's business development in the global market.

In 2016, Itoki acquired the interior decoration company TARKUS INTERIORS in Singapore, and last year we established Novo Workstyle in China. Up to now, Itoki has focused mainly on Japanese companies entering overseas markets, but I would also like to make full use of Itoki in the local market as well going forward. Our immediate priority markets are China and ASEAN nations, where there is a strong demand and a growing market.
Last year we also collaborated with Knoll, a well-known North American brand, and together with inter.office, we established the Knoll Japan joint venture. Our collaboration with Knoll also opened the door to the North American market beyond China and Southeast Asia.

Q5

Is there anything in closing you would like to say to stakeholders?

Yoshiro Hirai

At Itoki, our goal is to fully utilize our knowledge and experience in reforming our own work-style to help reform all of our customers' work-styles and to create new value that can be developed to its full potential. Together, we can not only design the work-style of tomorrow but also grow together through shared experiences as we continue to make the world a better place. And to all of our stakeholders, I ask for your continued support in this endeavor.