#2 GENDA Group’s first M&A of business succession via 100% stock transfer of SPSS was a great success – SPSS.

SPSS Co., Ltd.
Non-executive Director
Michio Ono

Lives and works in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture. Has been engaged in sales promotion business for about 40 years. Specializing in in-store promotions, he has been instrumental in managing supermarket events, campaigns, and events, etc. In October 2001, he founded SPSS Co., Ltd. and became Representative Director and President. He has been in his current position since 2019.

Sales were sluggish even though the company has been profitable for 15 consecutive terms.
Also had a desire to take over the business.

I established SPSS in October 2001 and was engaged in business centered on in-store promotions for supermarkets. For example, we designed decorations for year-end sales and conducted receipt raffles. One of our main clients was the Aeon Group, and through that relationship we had been in contact with Chairman Kataoka since he was in charge of sales planning at Aeon Fantasy, and he was very helpful to us. Aeon Fantasy is a company that operates amusement arcades and other facilities in shopping malls, and I was allowed to do a lot of work related to sales planning.

The company was doing well and had been profitable for 15 consecutive terms since its launch. However, after sales reached 500 million yen, sales were sluggish and the number of employees was at a standstill at 12 to 13, and I honestly felt that growth was becoming difficult. I was about 60 years old at the time, and I had originally planned to transfer the management of the company to my successor by the age of 65.

In the midst of all this, I was shocked when we posted a small loss for the first time in our 16th fiscal year. Fortunately, we recovered the following year, but I thought to myself, “As I get older, I will become more and more stubborn. Then I decided to seriously tackle the issue of business succession, which I had been thinking about for a long time. I made up my mind. I had come to the conclusion that, if I were to think of the company as a child, it would be enough to take care of it from birth until the age of 18, when the child would graduate from high school.

I looked for a successor that would be profitable and continue to grow.
The answer was GENDA.

However, even when it came to business succession, passing the business on to family members was not an option. We believe that a company is supposed to generate profits and continue to grow, so we had to find a successor who could ensure that this would happen.

Just as I was thinking about this, Chairman Nao Kataoka, who at the time concurrently served as president of both Aeon Fantasy and Aeon Entertainment, retired in May 2018 and decided to establish GENDA. Chairman Nao Kataoka always publicly stated that he would “create the world’s No.1 entertainment company,” and we felt that the future held great promise for the company. I thought it would be best for the company’s survival and growth to become part of GENDA, so I consulted with Chairman Kataoka, and one month later, in June, we transferred 100% of our shares to GENDA, becoming the first M&A of the GENDA Group. Whatever it is, number one is good (laughs), and although SPSS is a small company, it is a record for being the first M&A.

After the stock transfer, he became the non-executive director.
The promise to protect the employment of employees was fulfilled.

After the stock transfer, Mr. Minoru Kitagawa, the current GENDA CBO (Chief Branding Officer), was appointed as the new president, the second generation of SPSS. There was talk of my continuing to serve on the board of directors, but I decided to step down from the management front and limit myself to coming to the office once or twice a week as a part-time director. I thought that it would be better to renew the organization since it would be under the umbrella of a new group, and it would be difficult for the employees to work if the new president and the founder were in the company together every day.

Since the transfer of shares was a condition of the transfer, the employees have continued to work for the company. Makiko Nagaishi, who had been a director of the company before the stock transfer, has continued to be involved in the management of the company as a director after the stock transfer.

Business expansion through the sales to the group companies.
Sales are expected to double to 1 billion yen this fiscal year.

After the stock transfer, in addition to our existing relationships with AEON Fantasy, Ecos, and other companies, we received more work from AEON Entertainment, which operates movie theaters.

The business has greatly expanded since GENDA GiGO Entertainment (GGE) became a member of the GENDA Group, and we have received a great deal more work from GGE for events related to amusement arcade openings, decorative design, and flyer and leaflet production. These were areas in which SPSS excelled before the stock transfer, and we have been able to make great use of the know-how we have cultivated through in-store promotions. In addition, Mr. Akifumi Murota, the third president following the second president Mr. Kitagawa, who came from the former Sega Entertainment, excels in the development of prizes (prizes for crane games) and event products, and has greatly increased sales.

Currently, SPSS is engaged in three major businesses, (1) sales promotion business, (2) prize business as mentioned above, and (3) advertising business (e.g., sales of advertisements before movie screenings), all of which are focused on the entertainment industry, including amusement arcades. The sales of (2) and (3) were newly added after the stock transfer, and we expect the sales for this fiscal year to double what it was before the stock transfer. I feel that the stock transfer to GENDA Group was a great success.

The company’s raison d’etre is to always be needed by its clients.
Although small in size, we are now able to play a part in the group.

As a member of the GENDA Group, we were able to witness the glorious spectacle of a stock listing on the Growth Market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on July 28 of this year (2023).The GENDA Group’s goal is to become the “world’s No.1 entertainment company,” so the joy of witnessing this major milestone, one of the steps toward that goal, being listed on the stock exchange, is an experience that is hard to replace.

What I expect from SPSS in the future, regardless of its size, is that it will be able to make a solid contribution to the GENDA Group. I believe that SPSS’s raison d’etre is to continue to be constantly needed, both by clients from before the stock transfer and by the GGE that is within the group. As a former owner and current non-executive director, I hope that SPSS will become a part of the world’s No.1 entertainment company.

Outline of the M&A

SPSS Co., Ltd. was established in October 2001 by Michio Ono, who was the owner-president prior to the stock transfer. The company’s main business was in-store promotions for supermarkets, with the Aeon Group and Eco’s Co., Ltd. (Akishima, Tokyo) as its main clients. in June 2018, the company transferred all of its shares to GENDA Inc. and joined the group.