WORLD MODE HOLDINGS
PR TIMES STORY: WORLD MODE HOLDINGS introduces its history of 10 years and future prospects in “PR TIMES STORY”.
※To see PR TIMES STORY (Japanese), please click here. English translation is below.
“Passion in fashion in action”. In order to make the exciting future for everyone who loves fashion, what answer has WORLD MODE HOLDINGS derived now?
Do you have favorite clothes? I like it because I feel refreshed, I can relax, it is good value for price, it is of a popular brand, I like its shape, material, design, color… Although the value of fashion varies from person to person, we all wear clothes every day. Fashion is inseparable from our everyday life, isn’t it?
However, under the state of emergency declaration, apparel was not recognized as a daily necessity, and many stores were forced to close their businesses. Why? Because fashion is for dressing up? Because people can live without fashionable clothes? This judgement given by the government, a huge shock was sent through the industry, and it was an opportunity for us to reconsider “what fashion is.”
World Mode Holdings (WORLD MODE HOLDINGS) is a group of companies that has continued to provide services in the changing fashion industry. Starting from human resources service, the company expanded its business in order to deliver various category of solutions specializing in the fashion field and became a group of companies. It can be said that such a company would be only one in Japan, and this year WORLD MODE HOLDINGS celebrate the 10th anniversary of our establishment. On this important occasion, we would like to introduce WORLD MODE HOLDINGS.
300 people in danger of losing their jobs?! The human resources business started as the result of being in a predicament. And from there, to the current group of companies.
Human resources company iDA, the founding company of WORLD MODE HOLDINGS, was founded by Keisuke Kafuku, father of Shinsuke Kafuku who is the current CEO of WORLD MODE HOLDINGS. After gaining experience as an employee at a company, the founder aspired to start his own business and started to work in the fashion and beauty industry. Although it was for learning temporarily, he was immersed in his work. And in 1999, at the age of 56, he finally founded the current iDA (at that time, iDAccess). Desiring to “give back to the fashion industry” where he learned a lot, he developed services in that industry, and was taking on various jobs such as developing sales channels and store management for brands. However, when he was involved in store management of certain brand, it decided to withdraw from Japan, and 300 staffs were suddenly in danger of losing their jobs. They were staffs that his company carefully educated, and in order to protect somehow their employment, he searched for new jobs for them. This event led iDA to embark on human resources business.
In 2008, Shinsuke Kafuku took over the presidency of iDA, and in 2012, founded WORLD MODE HOLDINGS. Like his father, he believed that “companies are constantly changing in response to the needs of customers.” In order to do so, he thought that it should change to a company owning multiple businesses rather than a single business. He talked about his vision everywhere, met professionals who sympathized with his dream, and the company became a group like it is today.
Inside the group and challenges
At searching for new jobs of 300 staffs to protect all employment, the most appreciated thing by customers was that they were trained as professionals working in stores. Considering that human resource development is an inseparable and important factor in the human resources business, Kafuku invited a training company to join the Group. In addition to business synergies, employees in the field worked well with each other. The group management seemed to be off to a good start.
But, when a long-established advertising agency AIAD (AI Advertising, at that time. Now, it’s developing integrated marketing.) joined the group as the third company, WORLD MODE HOLDINGS faced the first test of group management. AIAD was headed by a legendary founder of nearly 80 years of age, a well-known advertising salesman in the industry. Kafuku was young president with its little experience, had no experience nor knowledge of advertising industry. It took more time than expected for him to function as a manager. Besides, since the business of advertising was different from existing human resources and training in the group, interaction between employees in the field did not go well.
WORLD MODE HOLDING Sholds Three companies invited in the group through M&A and two companies established by inviting professionals from outside. All of them have different fields of expertise and cultures such as cooperate culture, atmosphere, job types and personnel systems from their founding company, iDA, WORLD MODE HOLDINGS has never implemented significant PMI (integration measures). While integrating offices and sharing information, different culture of each company is preserved as individuality.
This method takes time for employees in the group to become more open and to generate synergies. Over time, they have come to support each other, and business synergies have been created significantly since the beginning. But as Kafuku is originally oriented toward group management, ideally, it should be more accelerated.
Synergy effects that can only be obtained through natural fusion over time
On the other hand, it is this fusion across specialties that we are currently struggling to explore, which is the reason why we can propose solutions tailored to customer’s issues.
When Kafuku first aspired to group management, he considered that the challenge would be respond to customer requests in all directions. At that time, Kafuku was talking to management and managers. Naturally, he could hear about issues from company-wide perspective and all directions. However, it was the frontline staffs of client companies that employees of WORLD MODE HOLDINGS faced every day. These staffs had assigned roles, departments, and job areas. The larger the client company, the more fragmented the roles, and it was difficult for them to understand issues outside their own department or areas. Even after becoming a group, the issues reaching WORLD MODE HOLDINGS from the frontline didn’t change much.
Nevertheless, since there are other companies professionally responsible for other fields within the group, employees of WORLD MODE HOLDINGS interact and get information each other almost daily. In this way, they come to realize that there are other issues behind ones they usually hear. And the presence of colleagues entrusted with other fields. It enables them to propose solutions to essential issues that they have not seen before and their clients are not aware of. “If your spend this cost, how about hiring marketing personnel who can develop a med and long-term strategy rather than PR measures?” “In this case, I think it would be better to ask for a store operation management instead of hiring a salesperson.”
By not forcing PMI, we can respect “differences” and understand struggles across fields each other. Although it may not be “all together”、each employee demonstrates their abilities in their fields. As a result, WORLD MODE HOLDINGS can generate synergies properly as a group.
The fashion industry, to the present and in the future
WORLD MODE HOLDINGS is finally celebrating its 10th anniversary as a group. AIAD, the group’s longest-running company, has been in business for 44 years. Although the fashion industry was very active at the time of their foundation, it peaked in the early 1990s and is said to have declined in market size.
Rise of SNS and digital media, increased EC rate and return of consumers to store, emergence of online-only brands, rise and fall of fast fashion brands, awareness of the big problem that the fashion is the world’s second largest polluting industry. At the mercy of rapid change, brands that should have created the trend are swayed by trends. Inevitably, there seems to be more and more gloomy news.
Before the pandemic, company executives had a thorough discussion on the topic of whether WORLD MODE HOLDINGS should continue to be a group dedicated to the fashion industry.
All participants answered “Yes”.
The greatest identity of WORLD MODE HOLDINGS is to provide solutions specializing in the fashion industry.
Despite the gloomy news such as the shrinking market size, the answer was that WORLD MODE HOLDINGS should continue to contribute to the development of the fashion industry. And this decision was the driving force behind us to keep moving forward even in the pandemic that came later. So, how should we stand up to the shrinkage of the fashion industry in numbers?
Nowadays, the decline of the Japan economy can be said sarcastically “Lost thirty years”. In fact, before, as seen in electrical appliances and automobiles used locally, we were proud to see Japan brands in various places overseas. But these days, the rise of other countries is very noticeable.
There is a famous management book “Lead and Disrupt : How to Solve the Innovator’s Dilemma”.
The authors explain the management theory on how important it is to adopt ambidexterity that balance both continuous improvement of existing businesses (Exploitation) and experiments, actions for new businesses (Exploration) based on the case studies of many U.S. companies. One of the reasons why lot of Japan companies are now facing fierce global competition, it may be that the balance of ambidexterity didn’t work well.
Fortunately, while promoting “exploitation” of each business of group companies, WORLD MODE HOLDINGS has been “exploring” to expand other new services based on the mainstay human resources business of iDA. Ten years ago, Kafuku thought that exploitation of a single business was not enough and proceeded this strategy. Now that there are more companies in the group, it is time for us to proceed with new “exploitation”, that is, new businesses.
To pass the richess of fashion on to the future
“Without recognized globally, there is no future for the company.” This is the statement spoken by Kafuku in the interview for writing this Story. He usually does not use strong words so as not to hurt others. But he spoke very strongly at this time. It was evident that he had a strong awareness of crisis.
When WORLD MODE HOLDINGS made the decision to continue to be a group dedicated to the fashion industry, one of the key reasons was “Fashion is essential to make people feel happy and will never go away. Of course, the importance of fashion varies from person and person, but looking at the current trends in the industry, we think our decision was not wrong. Breaking away froｍ Corona disaster, the need of consumers is shifting from “comfortable Off-fashion” to “On-fashion for meeting someone”. The latter is recovering, and some brands are performing better than before pandemic.
Even with the rapid changes of times, fashion is essential element for making people happy and coloring the life. Prolonged pandemic may have reminded us what is important but forgotten. Then, to pass on what the fashion enriches to future generation, what should we do?
It feels like the Corona disaster has accelerated the change of trend, and lot of people seems tired of that. So do we. But a word of one employee awaked us.
“Unless they face a great change, our clients don’t need to reconsider their strategies and business partners and don’t need WORLD MODE HOLDINGS. They need our solutions when they would have to change significantly something across departments. “
Now that consumer activities have changed from going to store for products featured in magazines to shopping products posted on SNS in EC or store, it is to equalize customer experience (C/X) that WORLD MODE HOLDINGS focuses on the most.
Since there are more points of contact, it is difficult for only one employee or one department to deal with consumers completely. Person in charge of SNS or EC, storefront. Even if consumers contact different employees of various departments or see information in different media, by communicating with equalized brand message and awareness on products, the brand will become recognizable for them. And it will raise their interest and purchase intention to make them fans of the brand.
This collaboration cannot be achieved without everyone working together. This is one of important changes to be worked on across departments. Through each action of this collaborative play, we will increase fans of products, of brands, of the fashion industry to pass on power of fashion and what fashion enriches to the future.