Business Irish

Friday 20 April 2018

Diverting tales of business deals but not many insightsZennovation

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

By Tomio Taki and

Adam Taki

IF you're expecting some earth-shattering revelations on business practice from Zennovation, you'll be left disappointed.

But as a tale of Japanese businessman Tomio Taki's pursuit of commerce from shortly after the end of World War Two to recently, the book provides some diverting tales.

Few will be aware of Tomio Taki's business -- Takihyo. The family firm had been on the go in some form for over 200 years in Japan, manufacturing kimonos and other traditional items.

After Taki left college in the fifties, he saw opportunities to grow the company's apparel business, eventually expanding into the US.

Taki bankrolled the development of the Donna Karen fashion design firm, propelling it into a major success.

But as Facebook suffers from IPO fallout, Taki also relates how Donna Karan International's own stock market flotation in 1997 was ultimately a disaster.

"Every day, people from Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns were at the office pushing everyone to get everything from a prospectus drafted, to coming up with numbers for a starting bid price for the stock," he recalls.

The stock rose about 10pc on its debut, but quickly tanked.

"There were a number of reasons for this, some of which arose out of not having enough time to prepare our prospectus," adds Taki.

Falling out

Donna Karan was eventually sold to Louis Vuitton, as the stock traded at just 10pc of its IPO price. It made for a falling out between Taki and Karan.

While Taki provides some interesting insights into Japanese business culture: "In Japan, there are 17 ways to say 'yes', but mean 'no'," most Irish firms would be more focused on expanding links with China rather than Japan.

But still, some of Taki's exploits make for interesting tales of his early attempts as a Japanese businessman to break into the US market, and to bring US fashion to Japanese consumers.

He also humourously predicts that, based on current Japanese birth and death rates, the current 120 million population of Japan will shrink to just 580 people by the year 2300.

But they'll still find something to sell to each other, no doubt.

Available with free P&P on or by calling 091-709350.

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