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 110 offices in more than 60 countries and operates through some 300 subsidiaries and affiliated companies around the world.
ITOCHU operates through seven business segments: Energy & Chemical, Food, Machinery, Insurance and Finance, General Products & Realty, Textile, and Metals & Minerals.
The Energy & Chemicals division (30% of total sales) handles trading of general energy-related products like crude oil, natural gas, and electricity. It is also engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production, and asset development, projects.
ITOCHU’s Food businesses (more than 20%) has three divisions— Provisions, Fresh Food, and Food Products Marketing & Distribution.
Perhaps the company most diverse segment is its Machinery segment (nearly 15%) that supplies products to large industrial plants, marine and aerospace projects, and serves the auto and construction industry as well.
ITOCHU lends money or provides insurance through its ICT and Financial Business division, which accounts for another 15% of total sales.
Products like tires, timber and other everyday products are sold under General Products segment, while Realty develops housing at home and handles its distribution business. Together they account for more than 10% of sales.
Textile (nearly 10%) consists of two brand and two apparel divisions.
Metals & Minerals, the smallest segment, handles large-scale iron ore and aluminum projects, develops base metals and trades in iron ore and non-ferrous metal products.
ITOCHU has operations in Japan (nearly 70% of sales), US (about 15%), Singapore, Australia, and UK accounts more than 10% combined.
Sales and Marketing
The company sells its products through retailers, wholesalers and distributors.
In the last five years, revenue at ITOCHU has gone up from JPY 4.6 trillion to JPY 5.5 trillion. In the same time, profits have surged from JPY 258.8 billion to JPY 400.3 billion.
Revenue increased 13.9% in 2018 (ended March 31) to JPY 5.5 trillion, mostly from the consolidation of the YANASE business (YOY JPY 361 billion increase), as well as increased aircraft-related sales, higher energy prices and acquisition of C.I. Kasei, as well as higher volumes sold by the FamilyMart business.
Net income increased 7.6% in 2018 to JPY 400.3 billion due to the conversion of YANASE into a consolidated subsidiary and the absence of deterioration in profitability in ship-related businesses, higher iron ore and coal prices.
Cash holdings reduced from JPY 605.5 billion to JPY 432.1 billion. Operations provided JPY 388.2 billion, offset by JPY 256.3 billion going towards investments, and a further JPY 296.1 billion going towards financing activities.
ITOCHU has stakes in almost everything—from the high-rise Taipei 101 (23% stake bought from Ting Hsin) to a pineapple-fueled biogas plant (Dole Philippines).
Energy and Chemicals remains ITOCHU’s core as it strategically spun off aging North Sea assets and replaced it with new stakes in coalfields (with Allegiance Coal in Canada) and oilfields (20% stake in Iraq from Shell), plus a coal distribution agreement in Asia (with Russia’s Mechel PAO).
The Japanese giant’s interest in leveraging the green economy is no less noteworthy. Recent investments include LNG projects (with Gazprom), energy dense semisolid lithium-ion batteries (24M Technologies), home battery systems (Moixa), and an electric vehicle startup (China’s Singulato Motors).
ITOCHU is moving away from commodities trading, and more into Foods and General Products business. It raised stakes in grocery chain FamilyMart Uny, and invested in Paidy Inc, Japan’s first instant post-pay credit service. Other notable investments varied from hospitals (Lippo Group in Indonesia) to textile (Metsa Group’s paper-grade pulp to fiber plant) and cures for liver disease (Promethera Biosciences).
Chinese market penetration is a top company priority. Though its Citic investment led to a $1.3 billion loss in 2018 due to the US-China tariff war, the company’s presence in China is set to increase. ITOCHU launched a Mandarin training program in 2015, with more than 1000 employees graduating the course since, a point of pride for the Japanese company.
ITOCHU had a humble beginning when an 18-year-old Chubei Itoh opened a small wholesale linen business in 1858, named after himself. The company grew as Japan started opening to foreign trade in the decade of 1860. By 1880, C. Itoh & Co was one of Osaka's largest textile wholesalers, and even managed to establish a trade office in San Francisco in 1889.
In the next three decades, the company spread its trading offices from New York to Calcutta and Manila. Although it was not one of the zaibatsu (industrial groups) that flourished in Japan during the period between the world wars, the company benefited from the increasing trade volumes.
Since then, its presence in Japan has been legendary— the company supplied UN troops with provisions during the Korean War, with profits used to diversify into petroleum, machinery, aircraft, and automobiles.
After the oil crisis of 1973 demonstrated Japan's vulnerability to oil import disruptions, C. Itoh actively participated in the development of petroleum production technology. To prevent the failure of Japan's 10th-largest trading company, Ataka, the Japanese government arranged a merger in 1977, making C. Itoh the third-largest sogo shosha.
C. Itoh changed its name to ITOCHU, a transliteration of its Japanese name, in 1992.
3059 TOWNSGATE RD
Westlake Village, CA 91361-3190
Phone: 1 (805) 601-5500
Employer Type: Privately Owned
Vice President: Robert Barnhouse
Vice President Quality And Regulatory Af: Hany Farag
MBR: Ann Wiese
Employees (This Location): 550
Employees (All Locations): 800
Westlake Village, CA