A group of Americans got an up-close view of the drycleaning industry in Japan
during a three-
day tour that included visits to drycleaning plants, the Clean Life Vision trade
show in Tokyo and
They saw that the dress styles in Japan are similar to those of the U.S. in the
1980s before the
arrival of casual dress, thus volume is still very good for Japanese cleaners.
However, some in
the industry there believe that the casual look will eventually affect their
businesses, too, and
thus have formed a group called PTB — Polos, T-shirts and Blouses — to prepare cleaners in
Japan for a possible incursion of more casual dress styles.
But the immediate challenge facing Japanese cleaners is low pricing and trying
find ways to
differentiate themselves from other cleaners. So far, this has resulted in using
price as the only
way to compete, thus while volume is good, profits are not. The Japanese plants
tended to excel in production and efficiency due to a lack of space and the need
to handle a
large volume of garments.