IBJ, Inc. (6071)
Shigeru Ishizaka, CEO
Shigeru Ishizaka,
Corporate Profile
IBJ, Inc.
Code No.
TSE 1st Section
Service business
Shigeru Ishizaka
Shinjuku First West 12F, 1-23-7 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
End of December
Stock Information
Share Price Number of shares issued Total market cap ROE (Actual) Trading Unit
¥771 41,277,900 shares ¥29,348 million 40.1% 100 shares
DPS (Est.) Dividend yield (Est.) EPS (Est.) PER (Est.) BPS (Actual) PBR (Actual)
To be determined - ¥32.08 22.2 times ¥77.75 9.1 times
*The share price is the closing price on June 13. The number of shares issued and BPS were taken from the brief financial report of 1Q of FY 12/18. ROE is the values for the previous term.
Earnings Trends
Fiscal Year Net Sales Operating Income Ordinary Income Net Income EPS DPS
Dec. 2014 (Actual) 3,317 643 630 404 10.84 4.17
Dec. 2015 (Actual) 4,123 843 836 567 15.24 5.67
Dec. 2016 (Actual) 5,268 1,111 1,106 725 19.91 6.00
Dec. 2017 (Actual) 9,461 1,493 1,493 1,036 28.17 9.00
Dec. 2018 (Forecast) 10,620 1,750 1,749 1,180 32.08 To be determined
*The forecasted values were provided by the company. Consolidated results from the term ended Dec. 2016.
This report outlines IBJ Inc., describes its growth strategies, and includes the interview with President Ishizaka.
Key Points
Company Overview
IBJ is a leading company in the marriage-hunting industry, whose mission is to solve the problem of the declining birthrate. The number of members registered in the Institution Bridal of Japan (IBJ Arranged Marriage System), which is Japan's largest network developed and operated by the company, is about 60,000. Its characteristics or strengths are the robust position supported by the business model of "Systems × Human Resources," the outstanding member base for enhancing the rate of successful business, the careful follow-up system for affiliated marriage agencies, and so on. With the aim of "producing 3% of the marriages in Japan" and "achieving sales of 30 billion yen and an operating income of 5 billion yen" in 2022, the company will strengthen its existing business, and create new markets for seniors, international marriage, etc. 1-1 Corporate history Shigeru Ishizaka (the current president and representative director of IBJ Inc.), who had been concerned about the combination of the obvious trend of declining birthrate and the lack of measures to counter this trend, believed that in Japan there would be no real point offering the platforms for simple meeting up unless the couples ended up marrying, and developed and managed the marriage-hunting websites early and with a great success. Intrigued by his success, Yahoo Japan Corporation bought the Bridal Net stocks in 2003 but Ishizaka, who was also convinced that offering real-life opportunities helped by real humans was indispensable to generate married couples as opposed to the online-only services, carried out MBO with the current management team in 2006 to become independent from the Yahoo Japan Corporation Group and established IBJ Inc. to expand the Marriage-Hunting Business more dynamically. The company already had a base and the know-how for attracting customers online. At the same time as expanding its Marriage-Hunting Business online, the company opened the directly-run lounges in Ginza and Shinjuku in 2007, where the counselors were available to offer support, as the starting point of its Marriage Consulting Agencies Business. As Ishizaka anticipated, the company managed to generate more married couples than its competitors due to the human support offered at the point of matching. This encouraged the company to further build up the network of marriage agencies. Back then, there were more than 3,000 marriage agencies throughout Japan, but they were still mostly using telephones, mails and fax for communication with the members and setting up appointments for marriage meeting. Ishizaka saw this as a significant obstacle as it was costing an unnecessary amount of time and effort as well as causing mistakes to the operation of the agencies. So he built a system to hugely improve the agencies'administration capacities by adopting IT and proposed this system to the key matchmakers throughout the country. At first there was no understanding for this system and the company had a difficult time, so it offered this system as a platform to attract new members. This worked out and the marriage agencies were able to attract new customers every month constantly, making this platform an essential tool for them. The company then offered the use of the system to them again: this time, its advantage of significantly improving the administration capacities was appreciated and the number of member agencies started to grow nationally. Alongside the growing number of member agencies as well as the members, its marriage-hunting website "Bridal Net" became the largest social marriage-hunting media in Japan and the company experienced a rapid expansion, enabling it to be listed on JASDAQ (standard) of the Osaka Securities Exchange in 2012. In 2014, it changed the markets to the 2nd Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange and then moved onto the 1st Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2015. 1-2 Management philosophy The company's management philosophy is "to treasure a connection with all stakeholders" and its credo (code of conduct) reflects its desire as a company "to provide services that garner top customer satisfaction." Additionally, the company’s brand statement is “an interpersonal encounter is arranged only by a human,” which it tries to use in tandem with its management philosophy. 1-3 Market environment <Situation Surrounding Unmarried People> * Rising percentage of unmarried people. The percentage of those unmarried people who do not have a partner is on the rise too. According to the research carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the percentage of unmarried people (aged 25-34) continues to rise. According to the "15th Basic Survey on Childbirth Trend (National Survey on Marriage and Childbirth) in 2015", among the unmarried people aged 18-34, the percentage of those without a partner is also rising year after year. *Marrying intentions of the unmarried: "intention to get married" still at a high level On the other hand, of the unmarried people aged 18-34, 85.7% of males and 89.3% of females say they want to get married, meaning the percentage of the unmarried who want to eventually get married is still high. While the percentage of those unmarried people who said they did "not intend to get married ever" has risen in both the males and females, the percentage of those who also said they may change their mind towards "intending to get married eventually" in the future was males and females at 44.1% and 49.8% respectively, meaning half of the demographic currently not intending to get married can also potentially shift towards marrying in the future. *Reasons for remaining single: "can't find an appropriate partner after 25" When asked why they would remain single, those young unmarried aged 18-24 listed many reasons for not having positive motives such as being "too young" and "not yet feeling necessity." However, among those aged 25-34, the percentage of those who say they "can't meet an appropriate partner" has risen, meaning the needs for meeting and chances to meet someone are significant. From the above data, it becomes clear that, although the percentage of the unmarried people as well as the unmarried people without a partner are on the rise, it does not mean that they are not interested in marriage, but rather they do not have the chances to meet the potential match. However, while there are clear market needs, it has also become clear from the user surveys that simply offering such opportunities (matching) is not enough to generate actual marriages, and it is essential that they be supported by the matchmaking support of the marriage agencies. In such a market environment, the company is leading the marriage-hunting market with its strengths such as the largest members'network in Japan and dedicated support from its full-time counselors. 1-4 Business segments There are two reported segments: "Marriage-Hunting Business" (operation of marriage-hunting sites, and planning and hosting marriage-hunting events) and "Life Design Business" (aimed at expanding the business domain utilizing the member base constructed through the Marriage-Hunting Business). Each segment in turn comprises multiple businesses. (1) Marriage-Hunting Business The company supports marriage-hunting through the following businesses. ①Community Business The company owns "Bridal Net" ? the largest marriage-hunting service website in Japan with 17 years of track records. Its monthly fee is 3,000 yen for both sexes. Compared to the general marriage-hunting apps and matching services, it tends to attract the members who are more serious about marriage and naturally it is more likely that more serious encounters are generated. The number of successful message exchanges per month is in excess of 58,000 and about 20,000 couples are formed every month. From the term ending December 2018, the company started a new marriage-hunting support service with the dedicated staff members called "marriage concierge." The marriage concierges provide fine-tuned supports to the members that can only be given by humans even though the services are provided online ? another of the company's strengths ? such as how to write the profiles, and how to arrange the first date. Its earnings model is (monthly chargeable members x monthly fees: 3,000 yen). ②Event Business The company organizes numerous events to which the members can attend with marriage-hunting in mind. The website "PARTY☆PARTY" is used to attract customers and the events are held at the company's 44 (as of the end of March 2018) own lounges both directly-owned and franchisees nationwide, and the events held outdoors are planned from time to time. Every month, about 4,000 parties are organized and about 60,000 members attend. Additionally, the fact that these parties are run by a company listed on the First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange makes the attendees feel more secure. Its earnings model is (event attendance fee 4,000 yen [average] x the number of attendees). ③Marriage Consulting Agencies Business The company offers marriage-hunting support to its members at the "Marriage-Hunting Lounges IBJ Members," the 13 marriage counseling lounges located around the country. The number of their members is approximately 60,000, making the company the industry leader. This number includes the registrants of the roughly 1,700 marriage agencies affiliated with the Institution Bridal of Japan (IBJ Marriage Arranging System), run by the company and also the largest of its kind in Japan. The largest member base in the industry as well as the strict joining assessment policy enable the company to offer higher quality meeting experiences to its members and the matching is carried out using its cutting-edge search system. Additionally, the service is characterized by the hands-on support given by the dedicated professional counselors to make marriage a reality. The counselors are also there to discover the members'charms such as personality and character that the members themselves may not be aware of, and they recommend potential matches to the members utilizing their experiences. By creating the encounters with a human touch and not just relying on the systems, the company is able to enhance the possibility of generating more marriages. An IBJ members'marriage formation is defined as the "engagement = the members decide to marry each other." Many major marriage agencies define the point at which the members start a relationship with marriage in mind as 'marriage formation.' But the reason why the members use marriage agencies is because they are looking to get married, and the company is also keen to contribute to solving the problem of lowering birthrate in Japan as its social responsibility: this is why the company defines the point of engagement as marriage formation. For these reasons, the counselors offer themselves tirelessly to assist the members even to the initial meeting with each other's parents so that the marriage formation is reached securely. As a result, the number of members who reached marriage formation in the term ended December 2017 was 1,269, up 18.4% year on year, and the percentage of marriage formation was 51.5% (actual results from the main courses within the half year period between July and December 2017) achieving an extremely high success rate amongst the competitors, even though the company's definition of marriage formation is set more narrowly. It is quite normal that the members and counselors become fairly close given such a personal support relationship. This helps the councilors introduce the members to the post-wedding services offered as part of the company's Life Design Business such as honeymoon and insurances. Its earning model is the annual fee (approximately 180,000 - 240,000 yen per year) x the number of members. At the point of marriage formation, a marriage formation fee 200,000 yen is chargeable separately. ④Corporate Business As well as supplying its systems to roughly 1,700 marriage agencies (individual & corporate) affiliated with the Institution Bridal of Japan (IBJ Marriage Arranging System), the largest network of its kind in Japan as mentioned above, the company also offers support in setting up new businesses and recruits for new affiliate members. In its Mid-term Management Plan, IBJ is aiming to produce 3% of all marriage formation in Japan from its own services. To achieve this, gaining new affiliated marriage agencies and training the existing affiliate agencies are indispensable, and the company is increasing the sales personnel as well as supplying the business methods to help the agencies to succeed. Its earning model is (affiliate fee 1,500,000 yen for newly affiliated marriage agency + system usage fee 20,000 yen x the number of affiliated marriage agencies) (in case of corporate affiliates, an affiliate fee starting from 3,000,000 yen is payable). (2) Life Design Business The company offers diverse services that arise from marriage-hunting, to the member base built up through its Marriage-Hunting Business. ①Wedding Business Wind & Sun Inc., a subsidiary since 2016, publishes "WIND AND SUN," the wedding information magazine with 25 years of history and also operates a website, both of which offer advertisement services to the wedding-related corporations. Using its website "Wedding Navi" and through the wedding salons, the company funnels the customers to its tie-up wedding parlors. ②Travel Business KAMOME CORPORATION, a subsidiary since 2016, designs honeymoons and overseas package holidays, and also sells the tours to major tour agencies and arranging custom made holidays. Additionally in 2017, IBJ Life Design Support Corporation was set up together with Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd to offer support at various stages of ones'life, from marriage-hunting, newly wed to child raising. 1-5 Characteristics and strengths (1) Solid position supported by the "Systems × Human Resources" business model The Institution Bridal of Japan (IBJ Marriage Arranging System) operated by the company boasts over 1,700 affiliate marriage agencies and about 60,000 members, making it the largest of its kind in Japan. On top of this, the customer attraction capability and the service level of the company's marriage-hunting websites and matchmaking parties make the company the undisputed industry leader and it occupies an extremely firm position in the marriage-hunting industry. What brought about this position is the company's business model that combines the strengths of the systems and human resources. The highly skilled team of in-house engineers develops and operates the company's unique systems. Because of this, the company is able to make rapid improvements to its UI (user interface) such as the screen visibility and operability, reacting to the customer needs accurately, and UX (user experiences) such as improved matching accuracy by the effective utilization of customer database. This helps boost the satisfaction rates among the members as well as the affiliate agencies. As the company's brand statement says, the company believes that "an interpersonal encounter is arranged only by a human" when it comes to its marriage formation policies. This is why the company uses its own training program to train its own counselors who eventually will become indispensable in assisting each member personally and lead them to marriage formation. The company's overwhelming position built around this "Systems × Human Resources" business model is acting as a very high entry barrier to a potential new comer. (2) Overwhelming member base that helps businesses succeed = customer asset With the 60,000 IBJ Marriage Arranging System members, 60,000 monthly marriage-hunting party attendees and 28,000 monthly matchmaking meeting attendees, the company's customer base is always hovering above 100,000 members. The company is poised to take advantage of this "living member base" to expand numerous new businesses including the Life Design Business. Because it is operational nonstop, the company believes that the key is to raise the success rate to set itself apart significantly from the competitors. This nonstop-operation member base and its volume will never be shown on the balance sheets, but nevertheless form part of the company's significant customer asset. (3) Follow-up System for the Member Agencies The company prides itself in being able to offer fine-tuned marriage-hunting support to its members via its counselors. Likewise, the company gives a strong support to its affiliate marriage agencies to help them succeed with their business operations. Since 2007, the company has been trying and testing the numerous methods at its own directly-run lounges at various phases of matchmaking to marriage formation, such as customer attraction, person-to-person sales operations (member recruiting) and orientations for the new members. The most effective of these methods were put together and are being offered to the affiliated marriage agencies. Because this is not a manual but a collection of successful methods, the agencies are able to take the direct shortcuts towards succeeding in their marriage agencies businesses. The company did not set a target ROE, but its ROE is high, because of high profit rate. 1-7 Shareholder return The dividend amount has been raised for 5 consecutive terms till the term ended Dec. 2017, and payout ratio is over 30%. In addition, the company set the following shareholder benefit program, to present complimentary cards and tickets according the number of shares held and the shareholding period.
Earnings Trend
Sales grew, but profit dropped due to active investment for growth. Sales were 2,457 million yen, up 4.9% year on year. Both businesses saw sales growth. Gross profit rate increased 1.2 points, and gross profit rose 7.0% at a higher rate than sales growth. Operating income declined 4.2% year on year to 327 million yen. SG&A augmented 10.8% year on year, as the company conducted active investment in personnel, opening shops, advertisements, etc. for growth. (2) Trend in each business 1. Community business The marriage concierge system began. Each marriage concierge supports 1,000 members. Their careful support, including advice each registered member, is highly evaluated, curbing the decrease in the number of members, which was 14,100 in Jan., 13,300 in Feb., and 13,500 in Mar. 2. Event business In 2018, the company plans to open shops actively. In the first quarter, the company opened new shops in Nanba, Ueno (Marui), and Dainagoya. Staff members were increased. In addition, the PARTY☆PARTY app was released. Although performance varies from season to season, the number of visitors is on an upward trend, and the growth in the second quarter, including Golden Week, is expected. 3. Marriage Consulting Agencies Business The personnel development division engaged in the development of personnel and the management of members. The number of members who got married during a period from Jan. to Mar. was 352, up 64 year on year. 4. Corporate business The app of IBJ Arranged Marriage System was renewed considerably. The number of affiliated marriage agencies steadily increased 310 year on year to 1,691. Double-digit growth of sales and profit Sales are estimated to increase 12.3% year on year to 10,620 million yen. Operating income is projected to rise 17.2% year on year to 1,750 million yen. The company will conduct active investment in human resources, opening shops, advertisements, etc. for growth, but its cost will be offset by sales growth. It is expected that profit will grow by double digits and operating income rate will increase 0.7 points. (2) Topics ◎ Reorganization of Diverse, Inc., which supports marriage, into a subsidiary On May 22, 2018, IBJ concluded a contract for acquiring all shares of Diverse, Inc., which is a consolidated subsidiary of mixi, Inc. (Mothers of TSE; 2121) and offers marriage support business. The company is scheduled to complete the share transfer on Jul. 2, 2018. Diverse, Inc. offers a variety of marriage support business with the aim of developing infrastructure for meeting future spouses according to the changes in lifestyles and a society in which more people can find a partner via the Internet, and then becoming a role model for businesses that help people foster connections in the society plagued with the declining birthrate and the aging population. Through the comprehensive alliance between Diverse, Inc., which offers dating apps targeted at relatively light users (who would start marriage-hunting activities), and IBJ, which offers combined marriage-hunting services, it is possible to find customers who would start marriage-hunting activities and offer consistent services in the three fields: marriage support, search for friends and boy/girlfriends, and romance media. In addition, the company aims to enhance the value of the entire corporate group (= improve customer satisfaction level), by sharing the core business know-how of each company and enhancing the synergy in the corporate group, through the combination of "functionality-emphasized online services" and "real services based on human resources."
Mid-term Management Plan and Growth Strategy
IBJ announced a 5-year Mid-term Management Plan, whose initial year is the term ending Dec. 2018. Based on the previous Mid-term Management Plan, the company plans to take ambitious measures for achieving new goals. (1) Review of the previous Mid-term Management Plan As for business performance, the company is expected to achieve sales of 10 billion yen this term, thanks to the healthy growth of the Marriage-Hunting Business and the expansion of the Life Design Business utilizing its customer base (including marriage information magazines, travels, and insurances). The annual average growth rate during the period from the listing in 2012 to 2017 is as high as 37% for sales, and 35% for operating income, raising its share price about 9 times. The company pursues social contribution by increasing married couples, and in 2018, it is expected to realize 6,000 marriages per year, which is 1% of about 600,000 marriages in Japan. (2) Regarding the new Mid-term Management Plan (2018-2022) ①Outline The company set the following objectives. IBJ will produce 3% of the marriages in Japan. Sales of 30 billion yen and an operating income of 5 billion yen Creation of new markets ① Market using AI ② Senior market ③ International marriage market For attaining the objectives, the company has the following three policies: "To conduct strategic M&A of marriage hunting and ancillary businesses for accelerated growth" "Commitment to successful match making (marriage) and actively invest in people and systems for accounting for 3% of the total marriages in Japan" "To build a solid network continuing to expand all over Japan" ②Market environment As mentioned in the section "1-3 Market environment," the percentage of unmarried people and the percentage of those unmarried people who do not have a partner are increasing, but most of them have a willingness to get married, but lack the opportunities to encounter a future spouse. The marriage-hunting industry has met such needs, and the ratio of marriages actualized by marriage-hunting services has increased 2.4 times in three years. In addition, large companies entered this market one after another, reeling in potential customers mainly in their 20s, and it is expected that marriage-hunting services will be more commonly used. ③Measures from now on In the above-mentioned environment, the company will concentrate on the following measures and pursue further growth. ≪① To brush up its strengths≫ As mentioned above, the position of IBJ in the marriage-hunting industry has been made solid by the support services based on "Systems" and "Human Resources." The company will brush up respective strengths and enhance competitive advantage further. (Strengths of systems) Japan's largest arranged marriage network, which is composed of about 1,700 affiliated marriage agencies and about 60,000 members, is unrivaled. The system for search, bookmarking, application for a meeting with a prospective marriage partner, and communication with a matchmaker in charge is very helpful to both members and affiliated marriage agencies. This term, the company released the PARTY☆PARTY app, making it easier for people to start marriage-hunting activities. In addition, the company will upgrade the user interfaces (UI) of systems and user experience (UX), to increase user satisfaction level. (Strengths of human resources) The method for realizing marriage developed in 17 years of marriage-hunting support is the company's know-how for success, and considerably helps affiliated marriage agencies solve problems. In addition, the matchmaking network composed of about 1,700 agencies and about 3,000 matchmakers is a strong base that supports the company. In order to cement the relationships with affiliated marriage agencies and matchmakers, the company will operate IBJ Method Schools for diffusing the method for realizing marriage from directly managed shops to affiliated marriage agencies, pursue the fee structure that emphasizes support for marriage rather than just increasing members, and brush up the skills of human resources by establishing a personnel development division aimed at recruiting and training sales staff, dedicated counselors, and marriage concierges. ≪② To expand its business domain≫ In addition to the business domains of marriage-hunting and marriage, the company will offer multifaceted services at marital life stages in various scenes (including insurance, housing, childbirth, child rearing, travel, and second life). In the current Life Design Business, the company has started producing some results in transporting customers to wedding centers, promoting insurance, offering honeymoon plans, etc. based on its resources, that is, 6,000 married couples per year and about 60,000 members registered in IBJ Arranged Marriage System. It will produce further results. ≪③ Application of artificial intelligence (AI) to marriage-hunting services≫ The company adopted "Sota," a small-sized desktop robot, which can communicate by gestures. This robot was developed by Headwaters Co., Ltd., which has developed and introduced robots and AI apps. It will be linked with the app for the marriage-hunting party service "PARTY☆PARTY," and engage in routine tasks, such as the reception, guidance, and explanation of matchmaking parties. In the future, AI is expected to conduct a broad range of tasks, including the arrangement of meetings and the explanation of contracts, at the marriage agency "IBJ Members." On the other hand, human resources will be allocated to the care for members, which requires manpower, to increase customer satisfaction level. ≪④ Provision of services to seniors'communities≫ The company has engaged in business activities while recognizing that its social mission is to solve the declining birthrate, but it also considers that Japan needs to solve the problem of the isolation of elderly people. Then, the company will create new services for helping seniors encounter partners through travel, which is a popular hobby among seniors. ≪⑤ Promotion of international marriage≫ The ratio of international marriages to all marriages in Japan has been in the order of 5%, and so a certain level of needs can be expected. In international marriages, South Korean grooms are dominant and account for 25.4% of marriages with Japanese women, and South Korean brides account for the third largest percentage of marriages with Japanese men. This is considered because of the popularity of K-POP and Korean stars in addition to the geographical conditions. The company thinks that it is meaningful to offer opportunities to encounter partners of different races and nationalities and increase marriages in Japan, and is planning to start offering international marriage services, mainly for “Japanese × Korean."
Interview with President Ishizaka
We asked President Ishizaka about the background of high growth, future growth strategies, and a message for investors. Q: "Your company has increased sales 12 terms in a row, and it is expected to exceed 10 billion yen this term. In addition, the yearly average growth rate of sales since 2007 will reach 55%. What do you think is the background and factors of your company's high growth?" A: "The first point is that we worked on not only establishing a system but also gaining "allies" swiftly, and completed the nationwide unification of the marriage agencies network. The other point is that we have focused on the actualization of marriage of customers, and recruited and trained excellent counselors who are required for it." As for external factors, there is a fact that the declining birthrate problem has become more apparent in the last ten years. However, what is more important is that we completed the nationwide unification of the marriage agencies network. Moreover, we worked on not only establishing a system but also gaining "allies," that is, matchmakers running notable marriage consulting agencies in Japan, which turned out to be successful. It is important that introduction of IT helped realize substantial efficiency improvement in agencies'operation, however, providing infrastructure alone is not sufficient enough to retain affiliated marriage agencies and have influence over them. For that reason, we didn't only provide infrastructure, but we also directly ran our own agency in order to obtain quality members and to develop services that can become an exemplar. We fostered originality by presenting our successful method to affiliated marriage agencies and promoted a strategy for raising our unifying power. As a result, instead of being just a system provider, we became an indispensable partner for affiliated marriage agencies to succeed in business. Applications and systems can be created by anyone with time and money, but gaining "allies" is not easy. This is the high entry barrier. Secondly, we have thoroughly focused on the realization of marriage of customers. Since it is difficult to have customers get married with just a system, it requires manual and analog work. Therefore, it is necessary to recruit and train excellent counselors. Our company has our own training program to improve counselors'skills, and this is a significant factor in differentiating our company from others. Q: "Please tell us about your policy and approach on the education and training of your employees, which are the most important for a company." A: "In order to further diffuse our brand statement: 'an interpersonal encounter is arranged only by a human,' we have established a new educational administration department. We plan to thoroughly continue the training and role playing to maintain and improve the quality of the people and services we pursue." As our company has been trying to share our philosophy based on our brand statement: "an interpersonal encounter is arranged only by a human," we have established a new educational administration department in 2017 in order to further diffuse the statement in our company. In this department, a team of well-experienced trainers carry out training. In addition, one-on-one role playing is performed for sales staff. This is because it is necessary for employees to fully understand decision-making process in order to convince rather than persuade customers who are deciding whether to join. Though it takes time and effort since the procedure is not predetermined, we plan to carry on thoroughly in order to maintain and improve the quality of the people and services our company pursues. Q: "Next, please tell us about your future growth strategy." A: "As for existing businesses, we will differentiate our company in advance by adopting AI and robots, in order to improve added value and fortify our current position. In addition, we plan to create new markets such as matchmaking for senior customers and international marriage support and realize our goal: 'producing 3% of married couples'and 'achieving sales of 30 billion yen and an operating income of 5 billion yen'by 2022." Our company sets the goal of "producing 3% of married couples in Japan" and "achieving sales of 30 billion yen and an operating income of 5 billion yen" in our ongoing Mid-term Management Plan. For that, it is necessary to fortify the existing businesses and create new businesses. First, regarding the existing Marriage-Hunting Business, as we announced that we would aim to improve efficiency by installing robots for reception work and operation at matchmaking parties, a system to improve productivity per person with AI and RPA (Robotic Process Automation: initiative to automate work with robots) can be used not only at matchmaking parties but also in various cases. As a company that has the merit in "Systems × Human Resources," we will expand the number of affiliated marriage agencies and members, increasing the number of marriage-hunting party attendants by polishing up the details of our service that only humans are capable of carrying out and by improving our added value in addition to adopting AI and robots. Secondly, as for Life Design Business, we will further accumulate experience of sending off customers to wedding halls and offering insurance and travel services, and focus on creating business of marriage support for seniors and international marriage support based on travel services. Although we cannot go into the details yet, we believe that we will be able to release various announcements during this term. Though the demand in the current marriage-hunting industry has been increasing, matchmaking scenes to find a partner have become more diverse with matchmaking izakaya restaurants, matchmaking bars and citywide matchmaking parties, and the number of players has also increased. To be honest, the market seems saturated at the moment, and we see other Marriage-Hunting Business companies facing a rough time. Our company is no exception, but we opened 3 banquet halls in 3 good locations, Nanba, Ueno (Marui), and Dainagoya in the first quarter. This is because we plan to differentiate our company from others in advance and to fortify our current position in the existing business field. In addition, we already have a vision of triggering the next trends such as a senior market and international marriage, which only our company is able to do. In addition to expanding the existing businesses, we plan to create new markets and realize our goal by 2022. Q: "Finally, please give investors and shareholders a message." A: "A business can grow only when its purpose matches social needs. We would appreciate your support from a medium-to-long term perspective, as we will continue to expand and develop our corporate value by meeting a wide range of social needs such as depopulation, declining birthrate, aging population, and social isolation, with marriage-hunting at the core." I believe that a business can grow and increase its scale only when its purpose matches social needs. In this light, our company's earning value is of course important, however, I would like you to understand the importance and necessity of social existence. IBJ, Inc. is a company that solves problems surrounding Japan such as depopulation, declining birthrate, aging population, and social isolation. We would appreciate your support from a medium-to-long term perspective, as we plan to keep expanding and developing our corporate value by meeting a wide range of social needs with marriage-hunting at the core.
In the first quarter, sales grew, but profit declined. This is because the company implemented the strategy of securing good locations and having an advantage over competitors, as mentioned in the interview with President Ishizaka. Investors need to understand it. We would like to pay attention to whether the company can achieve sales of over 10 billion yen, increasing sales and profit by double digits in the marriage-hunting field, whose vibrancy seems to have subsided somewhat, in the short term, and the progress of creation of new markets for seniors and international marriage for "producing 3% of married couples" and "achieving sales of 30 billion yen and an operating income of 5 billion yen" in the medium/long term.
<Reference: Regarding Corporate Governance>
◎ Corporate Governance Report Last update date: Mar. 26, 2018 <Basic Policy> Our company believes effective business management requires building quality, stable relationships with our stakeholders that continue for the long term, something achievable by employing a management style that is dynamic and flexible, continually improving our business management monitoring, and ensuring sound business practices and transparency. To this end, our basic philosophy concerning corporate governance involves making a concerted effort to continually improve compliance awareness alongside efforts to enhance our organizational framework, with a strong focus on risk management.
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