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Zojirushi turns to Southeast Asia to bolster flagging growth

Japanese appliance maker aims to rely less on tourist shopping sprees

Zojirushi President Norio Ichikawa, right, attributes a slowdown in sales to less tourist spending.

OSAKA -- Zojirushi's earnings have plateaued as buying by foreign tourists has ebbed, forcing the Japanese kitchen appliance manufacturer to seek customers in new markets, particularly Southeast Asia.

The company said Monday that group sales edged down 0.6% to 89.2 billion yen ($761 million) for the fiscal year ended in November, and are expected to fall to 88.5 billion yen next fiscal year. "Sales at tax-free stores dropped by nearly half in fiscal 2016, from 3.6 billion yen to 1.9 billion yen," President Norio Ichikawa told reporters.

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