Reve21 Co., a Japanese hair clinic operator, said it will turn to the public to sell its founder’s shares and recruit a chief executive officer to start business in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
The Osaka-based company plans to sell two-thirds of the shares that founder and president Katsumasa Okamura owns in a global initial public offering and list in Tokyo and Hong Kong, he said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. Okamura is using a recruiter to find his successor before retiring.
Japan’s equity capital market is beginning to recover from a record earthquake, with 10 companies announcing plans for an IPO since the March 11 disaster compared with six in the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Reve21, which almost doubled clients to 137,000 in five years, has no competitors in Japan or abroad offering treatment to replenish hair without wigs or implants, Okamura said.
“Listing will make it easier to establish credibility and attract good people,” said Okamura, 66, who isn’t balding. “Most people in Asia don’t like thinning hair, and Americans and Europeans want to keep looking young and rich hair is crucial to that.”
Reve21 estimates 42 million Japanese suffer from hair loss, a third of the population. Japanese spend about 430 billion yen ($5.6 billion) on hair care each year and the market is growing as people age, according to a study conducted by Yano Research Institute Ltd. from January to March in 2010.
“It’ll be interesting to see how a company with such a new and unique business model will join in the capital market,” said Hidekatsu Watanabe, a Tokyo-based health care analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. Demand in Asia and Latin America may have the most potential because of “the contrast between their hair and skin color,” he said.
Unlike domestic companies Aderans Co. or Artnature Inc. (7823), Reve21 doesn’t offer hair transplants or wigs. The company, which has 97 outlets in Japan, provides counseling to find causes of hair loss and treats roots with techniques such as laser beams and herbal blended shampoos.
A two-year course of treatment costs about 1.6 million yen, according to Reve21’s consulting center, which also advises members to improve eating habits and lifestyles to reduce stress that might contribute to hair loss.
Search for CEO
The 35-year old business hasn’t hired brokerages for the IPO or determined when to apply to the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s biggest board, Okamura said, adding that the new CEO will decide details of the sale. The firm had a profit in each of the past three years on annual revenue of about 15 billion yen, he said.
Reve21 will offer the CEO a 30 million yen annual salary, said Erika Ishiguro, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman. The company will use a 73,000-person database owned by BizReach Inc., a Japanese executive research firm, to find the leader.
“Okamura is very stoic,” BizReach Chief Executive Officer Soichiro Minami said in an interview. “He used to be a laundryman, and he invented a hair tonic and tested it with his customers. His daily routine is to clean up the office bathrooms by himself in the morning before his employees arrive.”
Okamura, who employs 850 staff, said he will retire after hiring his successor. He may return the rest of his shares to the company after the IPO and donate the proceeds to the public after the share sale, the president said.
“I plan to spend the rest of my life where there is no civilization or culture. I want to live without electricity and get water, vegetables and food by myself,” Okamura said. “I’ve been suppressing my desires for 40 years, so from now on I just want to live like fish and birds do.”
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