by Graham Forsdyke
Issue No. 35
ISMACS committee member, Allan Sheen, who has taken on the job of researching 20th-century machines for the society, has come up with the following on the Japanese Riccar concern.
The Riccar Company was founded on September 16, 1939, originally under the name of Nippon Shokusan Kogyo; then Rikagaku Kogyo.
In May, 1948, it began to manufacture sewing machines in Tachikawa, Tokyo, and initiated sales by way of subscription and installments. This way of selling was an utterly new concept in the sewing-machine industry in Japan.
The company name was changed, in September, 1949, to Riccar Sewing Machine Company Ltd. From that time, Riccar continued to do its best to expand its production facilities and improve manufacturing techniques and in November 1960, received the prize of the Director-General of the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology for its modern factory layout. In September 1965 it also received the prize of the Minister of International Trade and Industry through the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology.
In the field of research and development, the Model RW-5 was awarded the Government-designated "G" (Good Design) Mark in December 1957. Then, in March 1963, Riccar received the Ohkochi Memorial Technological prize for the first time in the sewing-machine industry.
In the field of sales, Riccar has steadily increased the number of directly-managed chain stores on a nationwide scale through its unique sales method. In 1961, the stock of Riccar was listed on the first division of the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya Stock Exchanges .
With the completion of a new head-office building (with nine floors above ground and three floors underground) in July 1963, Riccar's head office was transferred from Kaji-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, to the present address. Riccar launched full-scale business abroad using its own brand name with the establishment of Riccar America Company in 1964, Riccar France SA in 1967 and Riccar Europa GmbH in 1969.
At the same time, Riccar strived at home to make effective use of its powerful sales and service network which has stretched across the whole of Japan. It embarked on the production and sales of electric home appliances in 1965. It also started selling microwave ovens in June 1969.
In December 1973, the Riccar Sewing Machine Company Ltd was redesignated Riccar Company Ltd.
In the sector of sewing machines, the main-line of its business, Riccar developed the free-arm sewing machine in 1970 and an electronic sewing machine for the first time in Japan in March 1976. Two years later Riccar UK was formed in 1978 and now operates from Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
In 1985 the Riccar Company was bought by Daiei, the Japanese equivalent of Marks & Spencer, who now markets machines under the Riccar name.