December 3, 2013, 2:33 PM

Vistaprint forms a Japanese joint venture

The new venture will target 10 million small businesses and self-employed professionals.

Lead Photo

Vistaprint NV sees a growing e-commerce business opportunity in Japan, and it's joining a venture with another online and store retailer of printing and digital photography services to take advantage of it.

Vistaprint, No. 33 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide has formed a joint venture with Plaza Create Co., a Japanese web and store-based retailer of photo prints, cameras, accessories and cloud-based photo storage services.

Under the terms of the deal, Vistaprint will invest $5 million in Plaza Create and purchase $5 million in Plaza Create stock to own 51% of the joint venture. Plaza Create also will invest $5 million in the arrangement.

Each company will contribute its Japanese online business to the venture, and products will also be available on computer kiosks within Plaza Create’s Palette Plaza and 55 Station stores throughout Japan, Vistaprint says.

When the deal closes in February, Vistaprint CEO Robert Keane will serve as the joint venture’s chairman and a director, while Plaza Create president Yasuhiro Oshima will be president and also a director.

Vistaprint didn’t disclose any financials for Plaza Create such as annual total sales and e-commerce revenue. But Vistaprint is executing the venture to take advantage of Plaza Create’s knowledge of Japanese retailing and consumers and its store base.

Through the joint venture Vistaprint wants broader access to the Japanese market of more than 10 million small businesses and self-employed professionals. “Vistaprint has built a strong initial base of business in Japan over the past few years, despite serving the market remotely,” Keane says. “However, we believe we must strengthen our commitment to Japan by building a strong domestic presence. We are excited to partner with Plaza Create to help achieve our mutual goals. Its stores are well-known and trusted by consumers throughout Japan.”

Eventually the two companies will build a new Japanese print services and fulfillment center.

Vistaprint sees the joint venture as another way to boost sales in Asia and the Pacific Rim, one of its fastest-growing international markets. For the 2012 fiscal year ended June 30, Vistaprint reported Asia-Pacific sales, which the company calls “most of world” sales, of $71.0 million, a 16.0% increase from $61.2 million.

Online retail sales in Japan will grow from $59.0 billion in 2013 to $96.1 billion in 2018, a 10% compound annual growth rate, Forrester Research Inc. predicted in a recent report.

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