J@pan Inc’s hard information on selected economic sectors and industries
Compiled by Ken Worsley of JapanEconomyNews.com
Labor and Wages
Household Budgets and Finance
Sources: Bank of Japan, Cabinet Office, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japanese National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry, Japan Wind Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Japan Automobile Dealers’ Association, Japan Mini Vehicles Association
By Sarah Noorbakhsh
A trip to the barbershop that was inundated with loads of extra services and carried a price tag to match was the original motivation for Kuniyoshi Konishi, founder of QB Net Co Ltd, to develop the wildly successful QB House. This no-frills bare-bones barber service offers a 10-minute haircut for ¥1000, with a brand image marked by its ubiquitous presence in shopping malls and train stations across the nation.
In an industry that, according to the Public Health Administration, has been slowly declining over the past several years, QB House has managed explosive growth, opening over 350 shops since it was founded in 1995. The booming of this quick cut business can be attributed to the gap it fills in a niche market of those who value their time and money over shoulder massages and hot towels. Additionally, the quick turnover in customers ensures a steady income, and the ¥1000 flat fee allows easy and quick calculation of profits.
QB House’s rapid growth is also due in part to efficiency borne through several unique innovations. A ticket vending machine instead of a cashier and traffic lights placed outside shops to indicate waiting time for a haircut are two hallmarks of the chain. To cut down on employee labor, and to bend a few rules, QB House’s ‘system units’ are equipped with all necessary appliances in arms reach, a dust box beneath each chair, and a special ‘air washer’ to blow away stray hairs after a cut instead of a more traditional shampoo. Sensors in the seats at each shop detect the flow of traffic at any given time, a feature part of the ‘traffic light system’ that enables the company to identify high-volume areas where another location could be opened.
The innovations go even further with the new ‘QB Shell,’ a one-person barbershop designed especially for QB House’s new locations in Singapore. Here video screens display news and information to customers during their 10-minute cut. As of 2007, the company has opened 23 shops abroad, with plans for further expansion into Asia. They have also forayed into a new market with the stylish ‘Quatre Beaute,’ offering working women beauty relief before going out on the town. Although not currently listed, in 1996 Orix Corp purchased 73.9% of QB Net Co Ltd, and the company has stated plans to make QB public after some finetuning with the current management to increase value.