Investing in Japan
Marcura Japan KK
Industry： Service / Others
The UAE-based Marcura Group—a provider of platforms that help shipping companies improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and enhance compliance—established Marcura Japan KK in Tokyo in 2013. The company will expand its business in Japan, a world-leading maritime country, and enhance its brand power in the global market.
The Marcura Group (hereinafter, Marcura) is a holding company which owns six operating firms. Its first, DA-Desk FZ-LLC, was established in Dubai in 2001. Marcura offers services that help companies in the shipping industry including shipping companies, ship operators (companies that are engaged in ship operations), ship management companies, brokers and ship owners improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. DA-Desk FZ-LLC, which is also the group’s core company, has over 230 ship operators and shipping companies around the world as clients.
Strength of Marcura: Helping shipping industry improve efficiency
President of Marcura Japan KK, Tokio Mitsuda says, “The company’s strength is that we are endeavoring to improve efficiency and cost reduction of the shipping industry where no other companies have tried before, efficiency improvement and cost reduction, and are contributing results to these areas.”
For example, DA-Desk FZ-LLC, Marcura’s flagship company offers a service called DA-Desk which verifies the propriety of port charges to be paid by ship operators, shipping companies and trading companies which own ships. In the past, ship operators and other companies mostly paid their port charges via agencies at the ports at which their ships are calling as this has been the custom in the shipping industry. DA-Desk compiles a database of all the port charges around the world and checks whether the charges presented by agencies are appropriate. This helps improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase cash flow related to operators’ tasks such as estimation of the port charges and preparation of invoices.
For this service, DA-Desk has been highly appreciated by ship operators but when it was introduced to the market, agencies reacted against it. However, as port charges became more reasonable thanks to DA-Desk, it also became possible to transfer charges from ship operators to agencies via DA-Desk in a secure and timely manner, and agencies began valuing DA-Desk. While it is making contributions to building a win-win relationship between ship operators and agencies, Marcura has been launching similar services one after another in the other operating companies of the group. So, it can be said that Marcura's strength is offering platforms that contribute to the improvement of the operational efficiency and compliance program (DA-compliance) which reduces the business risk of shipping companies around the world.
Venturing out into world using Japan’s maritime brand power
“As a company engaged in the shipping industry, it was essential to make our way to Japan, a world-leading maritime country,” says Mr. Mitsuda looking back. In Japan,there are multiple global-scale general shipping companies as well as general trading companies that directly operate ships. Japan is also a large maritime country with a history that has drawn significant attention from shipping industries in the world. Mr. Mitsuda says, “Doing business with a major Japanese company lends to forming a global brand. By having Japanese shipping companies as clients, we not only create more business in Japan, we also demonstrate our reliability and become better known in the world, leading to more business in other countries.” It was inevitable for Marcura, has clients all over the world, to expand its operations into Japan. As Marcura’s core business, DA-Desk had set up a Japan Desk within the headquarters in Dubai before its expansion into the Japanese market and served local subsidiaries of Japanese companies as clients. The company decided to set up a base in Japan in order to strengthen marketing of DA-Desk and other services in the country.
Difficulties when starting operations in Japan
“Upon doing business in Japan, I was reaffirmed of the fact that ‘credibility’ and ‘trust’ are important factors,” says Mr. Mitsuda. Even when he explained to Japanese companies that Marcura’s services were producing good results overseas and similar results could be expected in Japan as well, most did not start using Marcura’s services straightaway due to the business custom in Japan. In this situation, the company made continuous efforts to gain credibility by making thorough and detailed sales activities and having Japanese companies who showed interest in the services examine the company’s systems and actual work process when they visited the headquarters in Dubai. As a result, once Marcura made a deal with a big company, competitors and medium-sized companies also gradually began to utilize its services. “This is also one of the characteristics of the Japanese market and is the reason why it is necessary to gain credibility and trust,” emphasizes Mr. Mitsuda.
Future business development in Japan
2015 is the third year since Marcura Japan was established, and the company has been steadily increasing its presence in the Japanese market. It is preparing to offer services such as Mar-Trust, a shipping-related payment and money transfer service, and Port-Log, a service to help shorten time spent in ports of call, in addition to its core service, DA-Desk. Mr. Mitsuda says with enthusiasm, “If we can build credibility for one service, our clients will feel assured about the reliability of our other services as well.”
To support the company in setting up their Japanese base, JETRO’s Invest Japan Business Support Center (IBSC) provided a range of services such as free temporary office space and consultation with experts in the fields of company registration, tax and labor matters. JETRO also helped the company find a location for its office.
Regarding the support from JETRO, Mr. Mitsuda says, “It was wonderful. JETRO recommended and introduced an expert on corporate establishment, which was really reassuring. They also lent us a meeting room within JETRO for a seminar we held. It was helpful in many ways for our company, as we were just starting out. Thanks to the support from JETRO, we were able to launch the company smartly.”
(July 2015 Interview)
Mr. Tokio Mitsuda,
President of Marcura Japan KK
|2001||Established DA-Desk FZ-LLC in UAE (Dubai) as flagship company of Marcura Group|
|2003||Established holding company Marcura in UAE (Dubai)|
|April 2013||Established Marcura Japan KK in Japan|
|Business||Offer platforms that help the shipping companies improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance compliance.|
|Address||The Imperial Hotel - 6 Floor, 1-1-1, Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-0011|
- Provision of IBSC temporary office
- Support with procedures for incorporation
- Support with finding real estate/rental space