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Increase Motivation with Uniforms! How Sumisho Montblanc Cares About Workers

Have you noticed that uniforms are becoming more stylish? Sumitomo Corporation Group’s uniform maker Sumisho Montblanc is aiming to design uniforms that make workers think, “I want to wear this!” Starting with a basis in making white coats, they combine both functionality and pleasing designs, and also pursue environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques. In this article, we will introduce the company's efforts and the synergies it creates with Sumitomo Corporation.

This content was originally published in December 2023.

  • Office Manager, Marketing & Production Operations Promotion Office
    Sumisho Montblanc

    Tomoyuki Soeda

    Mr. Soeda has been in his current post since July 2023, engaging in product planning, the introduction of licensed brands, and PR activities such as exhibitions. Aiming at product planning based on a market-oriented approach and raising his company’s profile, he is in charge of a wide range of business activities such as sales promotions and advertising.

  • Retail Business Dept. No. 2
    Sumitomo Corporation

    Eriko Sakiyama

    Since joining the company in 2022, she has served as the person in charge for Sumisho Montblanc. She uses the network of the integrated trading and business investment company and in-house assets to provide support for Sumisho Montblanc’s market expansion and efforts related to SDGs.

Our Main Products Are Uniforms for Food Production, Medical Sites, and the Food Industry.

Please give us a summary of Sumisho Montblanc’s business.

Mr. Soeda Sumisho Montblanc is a uniform manufacturer. Our predecessor, Takeyama Textiles, was established in 1950 as a manufacturer and wholesaler of materials for white coats. From those beginnings, they went on to build a nationwide sales network of distributors. In 1970, with investment from Sumitomo Corporation and Toyobo Co., Ltd., Takeyama started independently manufacturing white coats, targeting the food and medical fields. In 1972, the Montblanc brand of white coats was born, with a lineup of high-quality products worthy of the famed mountain from which it took its name. The brand gained support from restaurants and medical sites, and has maintained a strong presence to this day.

What are the strengths of Sumisho Montblanc?

Mr. Soeda Uniforms can be divided into four categories: 1) workwear (such as for manufacturing), 2) office uniforms, 3) student uniforms, and 4) service uniforms for tertiary industries. Sumisho Montblanc’s specialty is service uniforms. We are the industry leader in white coats for food production and the food and beverage sector, and second for white medical coats.

In addition to having good designs, functionality and durability are essential to uniforms. In particular, hospital coats need to be washed in hot water of 80 degrees Celsius in order to prevent infections. In response, we developed a material that can be washed at high heat repeatedly without getting damaged and without the colors fading. And in uniforms for use in food factories, we offer our pattern design named “Smooth Fit,” which makes it easy to move, prevents infections, and can cover a wide range of body types in one size. The product has received positive feedback from many food factories.

One Step Ahead in Environmental Initiatives

Please tell us about your initiatives for the SDGs.

Mr. Soeda We are actively involved in efforts for the environment. In 2010, we launched our carbon offset initiatives. We work to offset greenhouse gasses, such as CO2, that are emitted in the process of making uniforms by investing in greenhouse gas reduction projects. For the distributors, our customers, offering uniforms with lower environmental impact allows them to provide added value to end users, and thereby differentiate themselves from the competition. In addition to the carbon offset initiatives currently being conducted for the food service industry and food factories, Sumisho Montblanc is also looking into the possibilities in the medical fields and finding ways to expand and reach even more end users.

Ms. Sakiyama At Sumitomo Corporation, our Energy Innovation Initiative (EII*1) is promoting the use of carbon credits in existing and brand-new business, and the EII’s organization has been offering advice on Monblanc’s carbon offset projects. Sumitomo Corporation will continue providing support so that Sumisho Montblanc’s carbon offset project will gain even more trust and have stronger appeal to customers.

*1. The Energy Innovation Initiative (EII) was established to develop next-generation businesses contributing to carbon-neutral society. It has a in-house cross-sectional organization that transcends the conventional departmental framework.

Uniforms made with Onibegie, an environmentally friendly dye

Mr. Soeda In 2023, we joined the uniform recycling service “BRING UNIFORM.” It is common to dispose of uniforms as industrial waste for incineration, but by joining this service, it is possible to recycle uniforms used by customers into materials such as cloth or fiber products.
Also, uniforms made with our environmentally friendly material Onibegie*2 have a natural, soft texture and are popular among many companies that are engaging in efforts to achieve the SDGs. It uses dyes made from pigments extracted from food waste such as onion skins, olive leaves, and grape lees.

*2. KOMATSU MATERE Co., Ltd.’s dying technology, it takes the preservation of the global environment into consideration. This environmentally friendly material utilizes a combination of natural ingredients from various plants and ingredients extracted from onion skins.

Building Relations with Medical Sites

Are there any initiatives unique to Sumisho Montblanc?

Ms. Sakiyama We are focusing on developing products that are easy to move in and that look great, so that all people who work at medical sites feel comfortable to do their jobs. Recently, we are collaborating with total beauty company “uka” on scrubs (short-sleeved medical coats with V-necks) for health care professionals that are available through electronic commerce. The color variations are based on uka’s nail polish colors, and these stylish items that are easy to move in are becoming popular with customers. Also, to match the changes in women’s life stages, we have developed maternity scrubs that help them work comfortably while pregnant.

“uka scrub study” is a scrub for health care professionals born from a collaboration with a popular brand “uka”.
Clothing that is designed to facilitate the movements of medical professionals, such as drawing blood and providing assistance.

Mr. Soeda Sumisho Montblanc is also promoting unique initiatives in external relations. In the industry-academia collaboration that began in 2021, the company is working with a university’s nursing department to jointly develop clothing for people with disabilities that can be removed with one hand, as well as clothing that facilitates the movements of medical professionals such as nurses and occupational therapists. Through these kinds of development activities, we are taking on the challenge of using scientific data to create even better products.

To Turn Customers into Fans

What does Sumitomo Corporation see in the future for Sumisho Montblanc?

Ms. Sakiyama Sumitomo Corporation is providing total support by using in-house assets and the network of the integrated trading and business investment company to support Sumisho Montblanc in expanding its business and raising its profile. We are considering ways to make use of our department’s know-how developed in past luxury brand projects and digital marketing in Sumisho Montblanc’s long-term strategy. Also, in addition to being indispensable work clothes, uniforms serve as communication tools that raise the motivation of workers and give comfort to patients and customers who receive services. We’re working to develop and provide attractive uniforms that make workers and customers feel great.

Please tell us about your specific initiatives.

Ms. Sakiyama Currently, most of our sales are conducted through distributors. However, with the popularization of EC sites and the diversification of end users’ purchasing methods, the environment surrounding uniform sales would change year by year. Based on that, Sumisho Montblanc is now focusing on developing uniforms that provide not only functional value but also “ emotional value” with a market-oriented concept. Our thinking centers on uniforms that individuals want to wear and that will boost their motivation toward their jobs. Also, we work to raise customer awareness of Sumisho Montblanc’s name and encourage them to become fans through our social media activities. Sumitomo Corporation is also involved in the business of Feiler Japan Co., Ltd., a luxury brand with the flagship product of handtowels. We were successful in creating fans through marketing for this brand, and we aim to utilize the know how for Sumisho Montblanc.

Striving to Create the Ultimate Uniform

Please tell us about your outlook for the future.

Mr. Soeda Going forward, Sumisho Montblanc will further expand business in the medical field and food factories, where there is still room for growth, and work to make the culture of wearing uniforms spread. Through making better uniforms, we will widely provide pleasant work environments. Using our planning and development abilities as a manufacturer and the comprehensive strengths of Sumitomo Corporation Group , Sumisho Montblanc, under our slogan of “uniform unites people,” will continue taking on the challenge of striving to create the ultimate uniform.


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