10 Things You Didn’t Know About Akio Nitori

In the world of retail furniture and interior decor items, Akio Nitori is a legend. As the founder and president of Nitori Holdings Co., Ltd., he has transformed the company into a dominant player in Japan’s home furnishings industry and has expanded its reach globally. But that doesn’t mean everyone knows the man behind the company. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Akio Nitori.

1. He comes from humble beginnings

Akio Nitori was born in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido, Japan. In his early youth, he helped his family with their farm, where he developed a unique understanding and respect for hard work. This humble background plays an essential part in shaping his business philosophies and practices.

His parents instilled into him the importance of thrift and frugality, virtues that would later become pillars of his business approach. With a clear vision and a determined mindset, Nitori always dreamt of achieving more, proving that success is indeed dependent on hard work and perseverance.

2. His company, Nitori, was established in 1967

Akio Nitori founded his company way back in 1967. The company’s first name was Nitori Furniture, but after a few years, Akio decided to rename it as simply Nitori. The goal behind this decision was to build an identity that encapsulates more than just furniture, aligning more towards comprehensive home furnishing.

Initially, Nitori was just a small furniture shop located in the city of Sapporo, but with persistence and astute business decisions, Akio transformed it into Japan’s largest furniture and home accessories’ retailer. Today, Nitori is synonymous with affordable and quality furniture, offering a vast product line to cater to a wide variety of customers.

3. He is also known as the ‘Furniture King’

Akio Nitori is fondly referred to as the ‘Furniture King’. It is a title well given, considering the mark he has made in the furniture industry. Under his leadership, Nitori has grown to have over 500 stores spread across Japan, Taiwan, and the USA.

For decades, Akio Nitori has been shaping the retail furniture business with his innovative ideas and a keen understanding of customer’s needs and preferences. His rule is not one of fear and overbearing dictation, but one of inspiring leadership and customer-focused innovation, thereby justifying his nickname as the ‘Furniture King.’

4. He went to school in America for business studies

Despite having strong roots in Japan, Akio Nitori is also well-versed with Western thinking and business methods. He studied business in America at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). This experience significantly influenced his business practices and shaped his global perspective towards retail.

Not only did his time in Los Angeles expose him to American business principles, but it also gave him the chance to explore American home furnishing stores. The influence of American furniture concepts can be clearly seen in many of Nitori’s products and product line-ups.

5. He’s a firm believer in the ‘customer comes first’ philosophy

Akio Nitori’s primary focus has always been on delivering high-quality, affordable products that satisfy the customers’ needs. “Put the customer first” is his main business mantra. He strongly believes that to be successful in retail, the company’s strategies, plans, and decisions should center around meeting the needs of the customers.

His approach towards customer satisfaction includes not just delivering quality goods, but also providing an excellent shopping experience, easy returns, and commendable after sales service. This unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction has won Nitori a loyal customer base that has propelled its success.

6. He isn’t afraid of competition

Akio Nitori is far from being wary of competition. On the contrary, he is known to welcome it. He believes competition to be a sign of a healthy market and considers it to be essential for corporate growth. He has often encouraged foreign home furnishing companies like IKEA to set up businesses in Japan.

In fact, Nitori’s stand is that strong competition fuels innovation and creates an urgency to improve. This attitude has not only helped Nitori maintain its dominance in the Japanese market, but also drove it to continually upgrade its products and services.

7. He strongly believes in research and innovation

Nitori encourages thorough research and product development. For Akio Nitori, innovation is not just about creating new products but improving existing ones. To ensure this, the company runs its own product development center and a logistics research center.

These research centers test products for durability, comfort, and many more parameters. After meticulous testing, the products are then mass-produced and sold in the Nitori stores, ensuring that customers only receive the best.

8. He was recognized by Forbes

Akio Nitori is regularly featured on Forbes’ list of billionaires. According to the magazine, his net worth in 2021 is $7.1 billion, making him one of Japan’s richest businessmen. This didn’t come as a surprise to many considering the success and pervasiveness of the Nitori brand across Asia and parts of America.

His listing in the Forbes billionaires list is a testament to his astute business acumen, leadership, and the success of his customer-centric business model.

9. He has a passion for sports

Away from the world of business and retail, Akio Nitori has a deep-rooted love for the world of sports. He is particularly fond of baseball and often encourages his employees to participate in sports activities for team building.

Nitori has reportedly donated huge sums of money towards the development of sports in Japan. His company has also sponsored major sporting events, further evidencing his support for the sports industry.

10. His succession plan

Unlike many businesses that easily crumble due to succession disputes, Akio Nitori has a clearly outlined succession plan for his company. Nitori’s eldest son, Motomasa Nitori, took over as President of Nitori Holdings in 2004.

Despite stepping down as President, Akio still plays an active role in the company’s decision-making processes, sharing his invaluable experience and wisdom with the current management, ensuring the longevity and ongoing success of the brand.

In conclusion, Akio Nitori is more than just a businessman. He is a visionary leader, a passionate sports enthusiast, and most importantly, a man who insists on putting the customer first. He is a testament to the fact that with an innovative mindset, clear vision, and unwavering dedication, success is indeed attainable.

Useful Links:

Official Nitori Website

Akio Nitori on Forbes