Trading behemoth ITOCHU Corporation does it all. ITOCHU is a leading Japanese sogo shosha (general trading company), along with Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi, and has business interests in such diverse areas as aerospace, equipment manufacturing, food distribution, and clothing production. It also has interests and operations in chemicals, energy and mining, financial services, and retailing. The conglomerate has approximately 120 offices in almost 70 countries and operates through some 350 subsidiaries and affiliated companies around the world.
ITOCHU operates in seven business segments: Textile; Machinery; Metals & Minerals; Energy & Chemicals; Food; General Products & Realty; and ICT & Financials.
Energy & Chemicals (30% of total sales), consists of Energy and Chemicals. The Energy Division handles trading of general energy-related products, (crude oil, petroleum products, LPG, LNG, natural gas, and electricity) and related projects. This division is also engaged in oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production projects.
The Chemicals Division handles trading and participates in projects related to organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, synthetic resin, fine chemicals, and electronic materials.
ICT & Financial Business (25%) has two divisions: the ICT and the Financial & Insurance Business.
Food (more than 20%) has three divisions: Provisions, Fresh Food, and Food Products Marketing & Distribution.
Textile (more than 10%) consists of two brand and two apparel divisions. It develops businesses in a wide range of fields from raw materials to finished products.
Machinery (about 10%) has three divisions: Plant Project, Marine & Aerospace; Automobiles; and Construction Machinery & Industrial Machinery.
Metals & Minerals operates two divisions: Metals & Mineral Resources and Coal; and Nuclear Fuel & Solar. Metals & Minerals operates large-scale iron ore and aluminum projects; develops minor metals and base metals; and trades in iron ore and non-ferrous metal products.
The General Products & Realty Company consists of the Forest Products & General Merchandise division and the Realty & Logistics division. Forest Products & General Merchandise deals with pulp, natural rubber, tires, timber, housing materials and other products associated with daily life, while the Realty & Logistics is engaged in the development of housing and distribution facilities and the distribution business (including third-party logistics) and international transportation.
ITOCHU has operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (including Japan and China), Oceania, Latin America, and North America.
Sales and Marketing
The company sells its products through retailers, wholesalers and distributors.
Note: Growth rates may differ after conversion to US Dollars.
ITOCHU's revenue dropped from ¥5,591 billion in fiscal 2015 (March year end) to ¥5,083 billion in fiscal 2016, primarily due to lower net sales across most segments. Energy and Chemicals revenue was down due to low oil prices; Metals & Minerals, due to a drop in iron and coal prices; and ICT, General Products & Realty, primarily due to the spin off of its US-based building materials business. The one bright spot was Food, which posted higher net sales due to higher transaction volumes.
Net profit declined from ¥200.6 billion to ¥240.4 billion as the result lower net sales across most segments; a 3% rise in selling general and administrative expenses; an increase in provision for doubtful account in foreign subsidiaries; and a 34% drop in gains on investments (due to the absence of an extraordinary gain it carried in the previous year).
Cash flows from operating activities grew from ¥403.6 in fiscal 2015 to ¥419.4 million in fiscal 2016.
This increase was due to steady collections on the Energy, Food, Metals & Minerals, and Machinery sectors, which outpaced a growth in inventories in Construction and Realty.
After a difficult fiscal 2016, and facing an increasingly competitive environment, ITOCHU management laid out a new strategy for growth.
Under the "Brand New Deal 2017" Plan, ITOCHU is looking grow its non-resource sectors (consumer-related businesses such as food and textiles) with a particular focus on the Chinese market. It is relying on its partnership with CITIC to help it with its expansion in China and on its partnership with Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand Group to help ITOCHU expand its market share in Southeast Asia.
(In 2015 ITOCHU and Charoen Pokphand Group agreed to jointly invest about $10 billion in CITIC for a 20% stake in the Chinese investment conglomerate).
To raise cash for reinvestment, in 2016 the company spun off its US-based construction company PrimeSource for ¥110 billion. It also raised cash and reduced risk by merging iron ore producer Nacional Minerios with mining firm Companhia Siderurgica Nacional in Brazil.