It has been another year of progress for the H&R Group (Relo Japan). While business volume has dropped a little in Japan in 2017 compared to the bumper 2016 we enjoyed, we have taken the opportunity to concentrate on some important internal improvements, which include a focus on productivity, data security and innovation. Engaging outside consultants to revamp our internal processes has worked wonders, allowing us to cut back on overtime and giving us more time to think!
Nevertheless, business was good in 2017. Our Nagoya and Kobe offices both enjoyed good results due to relocation volumes into the Central Japan and Kansai regions. In Tokyo, however, mobility industry trends toward lower budgets and shorter program lengths are becoming more apparent, and one focus in the New Year will be drilling down on those trends to better respond to the challenges they represent.
We expect to be certified under ISO 27001 in March of 2018. Getting certified is a big job, but we did well on our first audit, and expect the next to go favorably as well. With over 80 staff now at the H&R Group we are using this certification process to get everyone to a consistent level of data security awareness. I am proud of everyone’s efforts so far, and I plan to continue working to get my companies, and the Mobility Industry, to a better place in terms of their handling of client data.
At the end of August, we officially registered our own “Gyoseishoshi Jimusho” (Immigration Lawyer’s Office) and added “Immigration Japan” to our growing number of service lines. Immigration Japan is the H&R Group’s 4thJapanese company; joining H&R Consultants, Relo Japan and Staffing Japan. Lead by some outstanding proactivity from our Tokyo Office, our immigration volumes continue to grow and grow, and we expect to continue that trend in 2018.
Our foreign staffing business, under the brand “Staffing Japan,” also continues to grow. The recruiting of Philippine workers already residing in Japan to assist in the caregiving, hospitality and retail sectors has complemented nicely the increasing number of Chinese workers we are dispatching in the manufacturing sector. This, in addition to the engineers Staffing Japan already employs in the aerospace industry in Nagoya. Every day in Japan you read about companies struggling to find and attract people, and it will only get worse. We see strong demand for foreign workers into the future, and while immigration laws are unlikely to be relaxed all at once, we are seeing gradual changes that will give more foreign workers the opportunity to work in Japan.
In Myanmar, everyone had a tough year. From horrendous reports regarding the Rohingya in Rakhine State, which have not helped business, to the government being (deliberately?) slow to pass bills and implement new legislation, we have not seen the influx of foreign companies we initially positioned ourselves for. We now predict that it will take between 3- 5 years to see the kind of growth that will increase demand for mobility services in Myanmar, and have tightened our belts a little to adapt. Despite the belt tightening, we are maintaining a solid, service orientated team with an ideal level of experience providing relocation services in the area. Our most consistent business currently is assisting clients with obtaining Stay Permits after they initially enter Myanmar on business visas. We expect further changes to immigration law in Myanmar’s future, hopefully including a working visa system that eases the burden our clients doing business here must endure now.
Finally, Orientations Inc.- Relo Network Asia, with entities in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the USA providing services across 17 countries in Asia, which we acquired in 2016, has come through its first full fiscal year in great shape. Despite slowdowns in both China and Singapore’s economies, Relo Network Asia registered 15% growth in 2017. I am very proud of the way the new team is coming together. Not only have we gone a full 12 months without any serious escalations, but we have onboarded new business from at least 10 companies that Relo Network Asia was not working with in 2016. Beverly Mayhew, founder of the business in 1981 has gracefully retired as of December 2017, after diligently completing her transition duties, and is succeeded by Sharon Michnay in Chicago, who takes over as the President of our US entity from this month. We are excited about our opportunities in 2018, as we continue to focus on improving our visibility in the industry, and continuing to improve service consistency across all 17 locations.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful, prosperous 2018!
President, H&R Group (Relo Japan)
Director of Sales and Business Development, Myanmar Relo Solutions
CEO, Orientations Inc.- Relo Network Asia