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Business

Yamato to hire 10,000 new employees this fiscal year

Japanese shipping giant spending $145m to relieve labor crunch

A Yamato worker unloads a package from a delivery truck.

TOKYO -- Japanese logistics giant Yamato Holdings will hire about 10,000 new workers group wide in the fiscal year ending next March, with the goal of alleviating the heavy burden faced by delivery crews while maintaining the quality of its service.

Overall, the Tokyo-based company plans a net addition to its workforce of 5%, or 9,200 employees -- 4,200 full-timers and 5,000 part-timers. Traditionally, only major restaurant and retail chains have had such large increases in hiring. Yamato will focus on mid-career recruits who can drive its trucks and staff its logistics centers.

The average ratio of job openings to job seekers in Japan came to 1.45 in March, according to the labor ministry. This is the highest the figure has been since November 1990, when the country was in the midst of an asset-price bubble. The ratio for jobs that involve driving, like truckers, was even higher, at 2.63. Logistics providers will likely face even steeper competition to get the workers they need.

Yamato has been handling the bulk of Amazon.com's deliveries in Japan since fiscal 2013. To deal with the resulting surge in shipment volume, the group expanded its staff by about 24,000 employees, or 14%, in the five years through March.

But the shipper is still struggling to keep up. Faced with logistical constraints, it aims to reduce the number of packages handled this fiscal year by 80 million, or 4%, from the previous 12-month period. Still, Yamato is launching its major hiring drive on concerns it may otherwise be unable to continue its home-delivery service.

The company's total payroll is expected to grow by 16.3 billion yen ($145 million) this fiscal year to a total of 530 billion yen. Group net profit, in comparison, is projected to total 17 billion yen.

Yamato plans to pay for the additional workers through rate hikes. It will raise the basic fee for retail customers by an average of 15% in September, and hopes to negotiate higher rates for its roughly 1,000 large-scale clients, including online retailers, by the end of that month.

Japan's logistics sector is scrambling to keep up with rising shipment volumes. Rivals Sagawa Express and Japan Post Holdings both plan to hire 10% more high school and college graduates next fiscal year, for a total of 600 and 4,800, respectively.

Meanwhile, Japan is expected to face a shortage of 100,000 truckers by fiscal 2020, as older drivers retire and few younger workers enter the field, according to the Railway Freight Association. The fight for labor is only expected to intensify in coming years.

(Nikkei)

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