TOKYO -- The American store banner IGA is expected to be on some 250 stores in Japan by 1995, Thomas S. Haggai, IGA chairman and chief executive officer, told SN Global. Independent Grocers Alliance is an organization that supports and franchises independently owned supermarkets. Its world headquarters is in Chicago.
IGA currently has some 160 stores using its name in Japan. Besides Japan, the IGA banner is used throughout the United States, in Korea, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Canada. Worldwide, the banner is used on about 4,000 stores.
The first IGA store opened here in 1988. Now IGA is adding stores in Japan at a rate of one per week, Haggai said.
In a recent ceremony marking IGA's fifth anniversary in Japan, Haggai praised C.I. Foods Systems, the first IGA wholesaler in Japan. "C.I. Foods has plowed new ground in Japanese food distribution," he said.
"The food distribution system in Japan is more complex than in other countries, but C.I. Foods is committed to simplifying the system and making it more efficient."
To facilitate the expansion of the IGA banner throughout Japan, IGA will join with Coca-Cola early next year to create Food Marketing University, a training program to be conducted in Japan, the United States and other countries. According to Haggai, the university will provide "superior retail training for IGA retailers and potential IGA retailers" in Japan.
IGA offers a similar training system in Australia.
Haggai attributes much of IGA's success in Japan to its unique approach to expansion.
"We do not reproduce IGA supermarkets from the United States," Haggai said. "Rather, we respect the integrity of each country.