According to government data released today, GDP in Japan fell 7.8% quarter on quarter in Q2 2020 (April to June), with Covid-19 having an impact both on domestic consumer spending and exports. Japan’s economy is heavily dependent on exports, especially to China, and demand there has remained subdued during Q2. This downturn does not bode well for the world’s No.3 CHC market, which had already failed to match the boost in OTC spending seen in Europe and North America in Q1, with Japan recording flat sales in MAT Q1 2020 owing to the loss of in-bound tourists from China and Taiwan.
Japan’s OTC market has not outperformed the wider economy, as has been the case in other regions during Covid-19, with several key local marketers reporting Q2 declines in line or in excess of Japan’s 7.8% GDP fall. Daiichi Sankyo saw OTC revenues decrease by 7.3% in fiscal Q1 2020 (Apr-Jun 2020), owing to the impact of Covid-19, while Taisho reported an even more dramatic fall in its Q2 domestic Self-Medication sales, with its OTC portfolio in Japan down 16.4% in fiscal Q1 2020 (Apr-Jun 2020). Tonic drink Lipovitan and CCA range Pabron both led the decline, impacted by Covid-19.
While Takeda no longer reports on the performance of its Self-Medication business in its quarterly results, it did reveal in its Q2 results presentation the value of the various regional portfolios of non-core and OTC products that it plans to divest in the near future. In late 2019, Takeda sold a portfolio of non-core OTC and Rx products to Swiss-based Acino, covering what the describes as its North Europe, Middle East & Africa (NEMEA) region, as well as a larger portfolio to Stada, covering Russia / CIS. Takeda now intends to complete even larger divestments in Latin America and Europe.
In late July, it was announced that Taisho is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire Takeda’s Consumer Healthcare unit in Japan, according to people familiar with the matter. Blackstone, Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners were also understood to be among the final bidders. If Taisho does secure the deal for Takeda’s CHC portolio in Japan – which DB6 valued at US$571mn in the MAT Q1 2020 period – it will extend its domestic dominance as Japan’s No.1 CHC marketer but still remain the global No.7 behind P&G. Either way, Taisho will be looking to move beyond the business uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and M&A, with a view to reviving growth in Japan’s CHC market in H2 2020.
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