Japanese satisfied with UK suppliers

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(First Edition)

RELATIONS between Japanese companies and their suppliers in the UK have improved over the past five years to the point where some British suppliers underestimate their high standing, according to a survey published yesterday by Touche Ross, the accountants and management consultants.

The suppliers also took 'a much dimmer view of the state of the British business environment' than the Japanese companies they were serving. This was because they failed to realise how competitive the UK was in terms of quality, cost and availability of labour.

The suppliers recognise the overriding importance the Japanese attach to quality in the products they purchase and that price is secondary, the report, entitled A Happy Marriage, says.

However, they sometimes underestimate the role of what the Japanese call 'partnership', which involves commitment by a supplier to providing total satisfaction to the manufacturer. The concept also implies a long-term, family-type relationship. 'After- work socialising is a feature of business life in Japan which has been transferred to their Western operations,' Egmont Kock, a partner with Touche Ross and author of the report, said.

In addition, while the Japanese companies surveyed were generally satisfied with their UK-based suppliers (both British and Japanese), UK suppliers were rated lower than Japanese counterparts on most counts.