No. 4: EMOOR co.,ltd and Tokyo Verdy

To all the partners of Tokyo Verdy who have been supporting our club in various ways for your own special reasons: we hope to go beyond the relationship framework we have had with our sponsors, and build a community in future where the club and our corporate partners can walk hand-in-hand together.


This project, entitled “ONE FLAG: Creating new value with our corporate partners,” allows comrades of the Verdy family to come together and discuss their thoughts and feelings about the future.

In this way, we can share our ideas with one another and look towards a future that we can build together.


For the fourth installment of this series, we are featuring EMOOR co.,ltd, who supports not only Verdy and Beleza, but also Menina, and is well-known for the EMOOR Day and their bedding products.


Joining us for this interview are Mr. Koji Takahashi (in the photo, center), representative director of EMOOR, who aims to make an innovation in the world’s bedding industry, and Mr. Ryo Sagawa (in the photo, left) of the partner sales department of Tokyo Verdy, the person-in-charge of this project who is making his first appearance here.


Our facilitator is Taito Yagihara (in the photo, left) from re-trigger Co., Ltd., another one of Tokyo Verdy’s corporate strategy partners. The interview will be about their thoughts on the Tama region, sleep and sports, and their visions for the future.


(Name honorifics are omitted going forward)


Using sleep and soccer to head into the world from the Tama region


Yagihara: Thank you for all the support during the first match of the World Cup the other day! I appreciate your support today as well! We hope these interviews will be a good opportunity for the club and its partners to think about ways to enhance each other’s value and come up with measures together to achieve their desired outcomes. This fourth installment features EMOOR.

Anyway, I think even our supporters might not know our club’s corporate partners well, so shall we begin by talking about this?


Takahashi: Definitely! Our company EMOOR was established in 2006 and is in the retail business of bedding and furniture. We are a branded company that sells products online and in physical stores through retail, and we also do wholesale distribution.


Yagihara: Thank you very much. Since your company’s headquarters are in Tachikawa City, that means that you and Verdy have the same hometown. You probably hold strong feelings for this area. Is that correct?


Takahashi: That’s right. In my case, I was born and raised in Hino City, so I’ve always wanted to establish my own company in my hometown, and then grow it to be one that can make it out into the world one day. Hence, I do have an emotional attachment to the Tama region. When I established my business, I did it in Kunitachi City on purpose to represent that it was like I was building a country (translator’s note: the Chinese characters of “Kunitachi” mean “building a country”), and when we shifted our operations, it was to the cities of Hachioji and Tachikawa, which are also in the same region.

Our company’s ambition is to create the newest and most interesting product in the world. To achieve this, I go overseas very often to obtain all sorts of information, and these are then contributed to our development efforts. This belief that we can make it out into the world from our hometown definitely shows our strong feelings for the local area.


Yagihara: I see. It’s nice to know the background story as to why the company was established in Kunitachi! Then, can you tell us about how you became Verdy’s partner?


Takahashi: This is probably a rare thing among the partners, but we weren’t approached by the sales team first. At the time, I was the one who applied to become a platinum supporting partner on my own initiative.

I used to play baseball and soccer when I was a child, and the kids who were good at soccer all entered the Verdy youth team. Among the kids of my generation in this region, there were many fans of Saitama Seibu Lions and Verdy.

Although we’ve been involved in various activities to contribute to the locality, I felt that this wasn’t sufficient. In order to rejuvenate the region, we couldn’t ignore the strong power of sports. Especially since we were going to support something like soccer, which has the World Cup tournament, there was no other team to choose from in our region besides Verdy. 


Yagihara: Wow, it’s such a joy to hear about your passion! Then, can you tell us specifically what kind of support you are currently providing?


Takahashi: For Verdy, we organize an annual event called EMOOR Day (held on 27 July this year on the day of the match against FC Machida Zelvia). We also provide bedding items such as mattresses, pillows, and other items based on the needs of the players.

For Beleza, the players appear on promotional pamphlets and in our website as image characters. Of course, they also come to our company and try out the beddings so that we can provide the most suitable products to them. 

Then, from this year onwards, we have started a professional sleep improvement consulting service after getting the sleep data from all players in the Beleza team. This is something quite rare in the industry, so we hope to continue with such a unique project and the corresponding measures for it going forward. In addition, our logo also appears in the chest portion of Menina’s uniform.


Yagihara: What was the reason Menina captured your attention? 


Takahashi: To begin with, we want to be a company that can contribute to the future of children, and I feel that I want to be an adult who can do the same as well. We started to support Menina from 2014 in order to nurture future top-notch talent for the Japanese female soccer scene.

At the time, the Japanese female soccer scene was at a high, thanks to the national team’s victory at the 2011 World Cup, and being runners-up at the 2012 London Olympics. This resulted in a sharp spike in visitor numbers, but this couldn’t be sustained after a while.

If we allowed things to continue as they were, women’s soccer would have become just a passing fad, and there were very few schools with soccer clubs for girls as well.


Yagihara: Thanks to the victory at the World Cup, the number of people playing the sport did increase a little, but the community is still very small.


Takahashi: Yes, and that was why we felt that supporting Menina would be significant for the Japanese women’s soccer scene. We were very happy to see that the junior and senior high players wearing EMOOR uniforms at the time were able to make it as potential candidates in the national team later on.


Yagihara: Indeed, this ties in with your company’s vision of making it in the world!


Takahashi: Exactly! We also gave out the pillows they used while traveling abroad for their matches as presents to provide support in the background without overburdening the players. That pretty much sums up the nature of our relationship with Verdy and its players.


Yagihara: At the time when you were about to become a partner, what expectations did you have of Verdy?


Takahashi: As an employee of our company, we aim to increase awareness towards EMOOR among Verdy’s supporters and interested parties, which will then hopefully lead them into buying our products. Personally, I'm thinking of a long-term partnership rather than whether immediate financial gains can be achieved.


Of course, when it comes to sales, there are no specific figures to quantify the impact of such a relationship, but I think that it is effective to a certain extent. However, what I am expecting is something that functions as a way to educate employees, like EMOOR Day. After having the opportunity to give lectures at universities, I’ve come to feel that education is extremely important.


In fact, after holding the EMOOR Day for several years, a sense of self-efficacy seems to have been instilled in our employees, and their planning abilities have also improved. So there is more educational effects rather than monetary gains.


Yagihara: It’s rare that Verdy can be utilized as an avenue for education. Can you tell us more specifically about the type of measures used during the EMOOR Day?


Takahashi: The EMOOR Day is an annual event where our company hopes that the employees would come together as one. Every year, we get new employees to take up leadership roles and set sales targets where they create a project with concrete plans on how to achieve these goals. 

Our company’s business is mostly completed on the Internet, so by doing real events like this, it helps to expand the perspective of our employees and boost their sense of self-efficacy by allowing them to see first-hand how we are supporting Verdy, which is loved by many supporters. I think that this is an extremely good thing to happen.


Yagihara: That sounds really nice, and it becomes an avenue for employee education indeed. Have you ever been approached by the supporters?  


Takahashi: Well, there were people who have approached me while I was eating out or walking outside to tell me that they had been to a match recently. I don’t think there is anyone in this area who doesn’t know Verdy. To be able to hold an event with the EMOOR brand in the title is something really significant.


Yagihara: The upcoming EMOOR Day will be held this month to coincide with the match against FC Machida Zelvia kicking off at 7pm on July 27 (Sat). Since it’s a rare occasion, how about we offer something as a present for those who are reading this article? What do you think? (laughs)


Takahashi: That’s a great idea. Let’s do it! Since our company’s establishment date is July 4, the first 10 people who will say the message, “Happy birthday to EMOOR on July 4” will get one of our products as a present.


Yagihara: Wow, thank you very much for this!  


Takahashi: Every year, we do have someone who wishes us a happy birthday. That person is a lucky guy as well (laughs). 



The things that can be done to ensure that this remains a good club


Yagihara: Up to now, we have been talking about positive things, so shall we move on and talk about the improvements you wish to see in Verdy?


Takahashi: Hmm…I wouldn’t say that there is absolutely nothing, but there has been a lot of expectations on how the young employees should be. The way of thinking and measures implemented by the staff are improving each year, and I feel that there has been an upward trend of how partners are being proactive about various ideas and correspondingly acting on them.


Yagihara: In relation to that, when we asked other partners the same question, many of them expressed the wish to see Verdy get promoted to the J1 league! 


Takahashi: Of course, we hope to see the club get promoted to J1 and become a team that can make it on the world stage. We have to think about what to do in order to achieve such a goal. However, I think it is more important to continue being a good club that will be loved by the supporters and make the locals happy.


Yagihara: I see. So, your wish is for the club to continue being a good club. What do you wish to do with Verdy to achieve this aim? 

Takahashi: There are lots of things we want to do! (laughs) We don’t really have a lot in terms of financial power, so we want to implement things that go beyond money and require brains and courage. We want to do something that will be the first in Japan or even in the world.

For a soccer club, being just strong is not good enough. I think it’s very important for people to be interested in the club. Although I respect the fact that Beleza is a very strong team that has won the title 4 years in a row, I do feel that it has issues in its ability to draw visitors. As such, you can see that strong performance does not always equate to popularity.

For example, if we develop a service that can link soccer (sport) with sleep and meals, then this may be something that can generate more interest in Verdy and Beleza beyond the usual supporters.


Rather than think of what one company should do, we are thinking of a shop created by professionals in food, sports, and sleep, which will open for a limited period of time, and can be implemented actively through a platform like Verdy. Once it becomes popular, it can create tangible benefits by bringing in customers.


Yagihara: This is something which should be put into practice as soon as possible! Actually, Mr. Sagawa and I have also been talking about something similar.


Sagawa: We should definitely try it. Verdy is very good at doing things which other clubs have not yet done, so we do want to make this our unique trait. 



Takahashi: We want to do that as well. The health management market is such a major business wherein overseas clubs include training and mental coaches and most recently, sleep coaches, in their staff lineup. This is not just for the sake of their teams, but also beneficial from a business perspective.

However, I don’t think that it is necessary to imitate what European and American teams are doing. There are bound to be ideas that can only be conceptualized in Japan, and that will probably be things that can be applied to other areas outside the sporting world. 


Yagihara: Health and sleep are important topics which many areas have started paying attention to.  


Takahashi: Precisely. Japan’s sleep market is estimated to be worth 3 trillion yen, so this is quite a big opportunity.

The first step for our company is to collect the sleep data of Beleza’s players and find the areas for improvement. The second step would be using that data to aim for improvement in their lifestyle habits and environments through bedding equipment.

I think such efforts may lead to the development of products such as Japan’s first napping room in the Verdy clubhouse. It would be a welcome trend to have these measures develop into business opportunities this way.

As Tokyo Verdy grows as a soccer team, I personally think that Verdy should aim to become a club that mixes sports and business, and can do well on the world stage. Once this happens, all those who are involved in this effort will get duly rewarded.


Yagihara: That sounds like a good idea. Even if we do not win in terms of capital, we can win with our ideas. 


Takahashi: Of course. If Verdy manages to develop a business and gets a patent for it, we can also sell it to big clubs overseas. I think this way of thinking is a reflection of our big dreams.


Yagihara: You mentioned this sleep consulting idea, which is relatively unheard of in other clubs, but already implemented in Beleza. Did you get any specific feedback from the players?


Takahashi: With regards to bedding, I think we have been able to provide suitable equipment for the players when they visited our company to try our products. As for specific feedback, we heard that the condition of their waists and backs have improved, as well as their sleep quality.

With regards to the sleep improvement program, we will be issuing a press release at a later date, so you can see the details from there. What can be confirmed at this stage is that although the quality of lifestyle habits is already at an extremely high level, we are still able to find areas to improve on and give advice on that. 


Yagihara: Oh, I’ll be looking forward to that.


Takahashi: I think we’ll be able to share the outcome of our advice by then. However, top athletes already have a high level of self-awareness towards their lifestyle habits to begin with, and it’s really impressive. 


Yagihara: I see. Thank you for sharing that. By the way, regarding Menina, which is a subordinate organization of Beleza, I hear that you have been offering support not just as a logo sponsor on the chest portion of their uniform, but also for their expedition fees.


Takahashi: That’s right. I think it’s an invaluable experience for children to know the world while they are young, so it’s definitely best for them to go through this at such a young age. Hence, we want to support them as much as we can.


Sagawa: The cheering voices were loud, too. There was an international tournament called Gothia Cup, held in Sweden last year, where Menina was the first female youth team from Japan to be invited. However, the travel expenses were very high, and we wanted very much to send them for the tournament. After asking EMOOR for help, we were grateful that they offered their support, and the team managed to win the title for the first time.



Yagihara: So they won? That’s awesome!


Sagawa: Although there was a huge difference in terms of body size and height between our players and their competitors, just like how it is for an adult versus a child, we managed to beat the opposing teams by margins as wide as 8-0. The players also gave feedback that it was a wonderful experience for them, since they also got to interact with the other players.


Takahashi: That experience is definitely very valuable. Middle-aged men like us must work hard for these children who will be creating the future, and I feel this especially when I see examples of this sort (laughs). We feel very grateful to them and for what they’ve achieved.


Yagihara: What a wonderful story. Not only will this overseas experience be good for the adolescent youth in terms of sports, but it is also beneficial to their lives.


Sagawa: Here’s one more thing that we are very thankful for. Our clubhouse canteen’s tables and chairs were in poor condition, so this was not desirable in terms of hygiene and appearance. When we discussed this with EMOOR, we didn’t think that there would be any likelihood of success, but they actually agreed to replace all of the furniture.

Now, the players are using tables and chairs provided by EMOOR when they eat their meals. The children from the academy also eat there every evening, and they are very happy about it. In this aspect, EMOOR has provided a lot of support.



Customized efforts to bring about unity


Yagihara: For the companies who intend to become partners from now on, if there is anything you would like to share or recommend, please tell us.


Takahashi: Tokyo Verdy is a famous club even among the domestic teams, so I think we can maximize this strength along with our company’s to the fullest. Especially since there are recently many young and talented staff in Verdy, I would recommend that rather than following a fixed pattern for partnership programs, it might be better to come up with a customized plan together.


I think that’s Verdy’s greatest strength. For big and established clubs, it may be difficult to do any form of customization. Hence, it is more advantageous to have the club and the corporate partners come together to discuss their views and come up with a new form of working relationship every year if need be.


Yagihara: That’s indeed the case. Our company is also providing support as a planning and strategic partner, so we are involved in the construction of such customized arrangements.



Takahashi: I think it’s a very rare thing indeed, and very much appreciated. So for those who want to join as new partners, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Once the club gets bigger, there are bound to be some restrictions applied in one way or another.

Compared to other countries, the Japanese sporting market is still very small. Although we can’t make simple comparisons, we also cannot deny that the sales figures disparity is several times different. As such, there is value in coming up with measures to plug this gap.


Sagawa: On the part of Verdy, the ability to customize allows us to start a wide range of initiatives based on our current situation, so this is a good thing for us. 

It has been about 2 years since I transferred to this position, and the first partner account I was in-charge of was EMOOR. We had numerous conversations on how we could be of help to EMOOR and what we should do in order to achieve this. 

When buying things through mail order, the company’s name may enjoy some exposure, but we still need to create an opportunity for them to see the consumers directly. That was why we had to engage EMOOR in discussions on how to increase the value of such a business.

For us, it was very enjoyable to work on this together to enhance each other’s value. We hope to continue this customization going forward. 



Yagihara: Thank you very much. Last but not least, having done this for 7 years, what has changed or what is the meaning of continuing in a long-term basis?


Takahashi: I feel that we and the players have become closer. We are able to communicate with one another freely through LINE, so in that sense, I think this reflects the establishment of our relationship of trust.


Yagihara: That’s really great to hear! Personally, the fact that there is little distance between the front line, the partners, and the players is a good thing, because this unity will bring improvements to the club. 


Takahashi: It’s exactly as you said. Hence, we try to make sure that we don’t behave too much like a sponsor. I’d like to think we are more like their comrades, because that way, the players and staff don’t have to worry too much when dealing with us. 

As for what it means to continue over a long period of time, we see that when the players, such as Shibasaki, writes about EMOOR’s bedding equipment, specifically on their introduction pages, and when our supporters use our cushions in their restaurants.

Through continuing on a long-term basis, we are happy when people who did not know about EMOOR become aware of us, and express gratitude towards us, even though we may not know about it. 

During EMOOR Day, there were supporters who hung banners bearing messages such as, “using EMOOR bedding equipment for life,” with changing themes every year. I get lots of cheers when I speak during the event, so I could feel the warmth from these supporters.


Yagihara: I think it must be really touching to receive such messages for the company you set up and expanded! Thank you very much for sharing these passionate stories as well as your specific plans for the future! 


Sagawa: Thank you very much!


Takahashi: Thank you very much! 


Yagihara: Thank you so much to the both of you! Through the interview with Mr. Takahashi, I have come to realize the importance of having a partner whom you can create the future with, together.

With Verdy as the catalyst, I believe that the entire industry will improve, not just for the soccer scene, but also from a business perspective. As a pioneer in this area, I think this is a challenge worth taking on. 



Writer: Shimon Watanabe / Photographer: Masato Ishibashi