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Shiseido to open first new Japanese plant since 1980s

TOKYO -- Shiseido will set up its first new domestic plant in nearly four decades, aiming to cash in on growing demand for Japanese products in greater Asia and beyond.

     The leading Japanese cosmetics maker will spend roughly 40 billion yen ($328 million) to build a facility in the Osaka Prefecture city of Ibaraki. It last opened a domestic plant in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, back in 1983.

     Construction is slated to begin in 2018 on a roughly 72,000-sq.-meter plot -- twice as large as one occupied by an existing Osaka plant that will shut down as the Ibaraki facility kicks off production in 2020.

     The new plant, which will produce high-end offerings, as well as mass-market lotions and moisturizers, will start out with the 900 employees transferring from the Osaka plant. Using two-armed and other advanced robots, the company seeks to raise output by 50% to 100 million units a year without expanding the workforce.

     Shiseido now takes about a week to deliver items from a domestic plant to drugstores in Japan. By building a distribution facility at the Ibaraki site, the company aims to slash this to a day.

     Cosmetics and other Japanese daily goods are gaining popularity overseas for their quality. Demand is growing strongly in Asia, where rising income levels are enabling more people to purchase Japanese products, often over the Internet.

     Japan's cosmetics exports jumped 35% to 167.5 billion yen in 2015, trade statistics show. Sales of such products here to Asian and other visitors are also on the rise. These customers tend to seek out the same items even after returning home, further helping exports of the products.

     Not to miss out on the boom, Japanese household goods manufacturers are stepping up investment to increase production.

     Kao plans to spend an annual 30 billion yen or so over the next two to three years on disposable-diaper factories inside and outside Japan.

     Kose has decided to invest about 6 billion yen by 2017 to raise output capacity at a Gunma Prefecture facility by roughly 80%. The site will produce more high-end cosmetics and other offerings.

     Lion is stepping up domestic production of midrange to premium toothbrushes, while Kobayashi Pharmaceutical is moving to expand in April its line of adhesive plasters for joint and muscle pain.

(Nikkei)

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