TOTO President: Addressing Needs Triggered by Pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun
TOTO Ltd. President Noriaki Kiyota speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The economic environment has dramatically changed due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. What kind of management strategy will be drawn up in the coronavirus era? The following is excerpted from an interview with TOTO Ltd. President Noriaki Kiyota by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Last year, our showroom was temporarily closed due to the novel coronavirus crisis, which caused some economic damage. But now, customer traffic is steadily returning. The return has been better than expected.

Consumers are becoming more hygiene-conscious and are more sensitive to cleanliness and avoiding contact. Automatic faucets and hands-free toilet lids that automatically open and close are selling well, and I believe that our efforts are being supported in producing such hygienic products.

This is due in part to the fact that people are spending more time at home and want to spend more time in the comfort of their own homes. People may be using their travel budgets for renovations. Contactless products are popular not only for home use, but also for use in schools and public facilities.

The recovery of our overseas sales is remarkable. Particularly in the United States, sales of Washlet toilet seats with warm-water bidet units nearly doubled in the January-September period of last year compared with the previous year, due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Now that this product line is gaining recognition, we will take steps to expand sales. We would also like to work with to expand our sales channels using the internet. Installation and after-sales service systems must also be enhanced.

I want to get back on a growth track this year. The virus crisis has affected our customers, so we need to change as well. There is no such thing as being satisfied with the status quo. There is a demand for cleaner and more hygienic products, and we will continue to make products with an eye on what comes next.

We are also working on digitization. A number of development projects are underway in collaboration between our company and overseas start-ups. We will collect data on toilets and baths to use for health management.

I think there are many things that toilets and bathrooms can do for people’s health using digital technology. We would like to continue our efforts to grasp the needs of consumers and always stay a step or half a step ahead of them.