Hanna Andersson Coming Back in Japan

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PORTLAND, OR -- This year Hanna Andersson is registering its first sales increase on the Japanese market since 1997, due in part to repositioning the catalog and to the higher value of the yen.

"We're up a little bit over last year where over the previous two or three years we were down or level," said Ann Disney of the children's apparel cataloger's marketing department.

The company has been in Japan for 10 years and was going great in the mid-nineties when the dollar was down to 80 yen and Hanna Andersson could take advantage of its long-established market position.

The company outsourced fulfillment, call center and warehouse and thus handles all orders, sales, returns and other transactions in-country. Moreover, it has inhouse Japanese-language capability at US headquarters.

"We repositioned the catalog," Disney said, "because it needed cleaning up. The book was too busy, too cluttered." Catalogs are dropped about once a month. Circulation is flat but Disney declined to reveal how many books were mailed each month.

The company continues to prospect for new customers, relying on tried and true methods that work on the Japanese market. "We do PR, we exchange our list with other list owners and we do some promotional things with magazine and package inserts."

A Web site is planned for launch next year. "It will not make a tremendous difference now but it will over time. We look on this as a long-term investment." The site is being built in-house in the US.

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