A farmer’s supply store in Japan has been bought by a group of Japanese investors, including a local billionaire, who are hoping to build an ambitious new food and agriculture retail outlet.
Tanaka Farms, based in Kaga, south-west of Tokyo, will close its doors next month.
Tanakas founder Tatsuo Tanaka says he hopes to turn the store into a thriving market, and he’s aiming for 50 per cent of the remaining stock to remain in the UK.
The company has been operating in Japan since 2007 and has branches in Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima and Kyoto.
But last year the company was sold to a group led by Masayoshi Son, who is worth a reported $5 billion.
In addition to Mr Tanaka, the company also includes the former chief executive of Sysco, which bought a majority stake in the business last year.
It plans to use the money to invest in other areas of its business, including its farm supply chain.
Mr Tanaka has said the venture is about creating a new family-owned business.
Mr Son, however, said he did not want to make a profit on the deal, and did not see Tanakashis business as “a way to save money”.
Mr Tanaka said he was hoping to open the new Tanakasa Farms in January, with plans to keep the business open until the end of the year.
“I’m planning to open a new Tanaka Farm next year.
We’re trying to make money here,” he said.
The plan is to operate the business as a standalone business, he said, adding that Tanakasu has “the potential to be the largest farm supply store chain in the world”.
Mr Son also bought Tanakassa Farms shares at the height of the global financial crisis last year for around $2 billion, which he plans to spend on his new venture.
Mr Tanaka has been a farmer for 15 years, but has recently moved into the business of retailing and has expanded into the food and fruit and vegetable sectors.
In the past, he also ran a wholesale business, before deciding to open Tanakasta Farms.
“We’re going to continue doing the best we can to improve our business and do our best to provide the best products to our customers,” Mr Tanaka told The Japan Times.
“The next generation of our customers will definitely benefit from our products.”
The deal is the latest in a series of investment in the retail sector, which is being seen as a way to boost the Japanese economy as a whole.
A number of big Japanese companies have invested in food and food-related businesses, including Toyota, which has invested more than $10 billion in Japan.
The Japanese government has also been pushing for more business investment in agriculture, saying it will create a $US2 trillion domestic industry.