Skip to main content
Member Introduction APEX Co., Ltd: Leading a more enriched life by embracing the Swedish way of life through its products
NEWS | Features

Member Introduction APEX Co., Ltd: Leading a more enriched life by embracing the Swedish way of life through its products

29 October 2019 | Written by administrator


Products designed and made in Sweden and other Nordic countries have permeated across the Japan market over the past decade or more. These products include accessory items, bedding, and clothing to name but a few. But more often than not, Japanese consumers simply "use" these products, instead of using them to improve and enhance their lives. Ms. Yoshiko Buell, president of APEX Co., Ltd, believes communicating the Swedish and Nordic way of life as the missing piece of the puzzle that would not only help the customers better utilize these products; it would ultimately lead to a more enriched life for all of them. SCCJ visited the company's head office in Takasaki-city, Gunma Prefecture, to learn more about Ms. Buell and her business.


Ms. Buell founded APEX in 1989. The company is an importer and distributor of a wide range of products. The products they deal with include bedding, furniture, lighting, and tableware. A large portion of their product portfolio is imported from Nordic countries including Sweden: "We started off as an importer of Swedish log houses. But our product portfolio has expanded and changed a lot over the years" said Ms. Buell.

The company's dealings of Nordic products really took off after Ms. Buell began collaborating with Japan Export Trade Research Organization (JETRO) as a consultant. "Back then, I was responsible for introducing products from several countries (including Sweden) to Japanese companies at JETRO's trade shows. It was during one such event that I was approached by a Danish bedding maker. They told me that they would like my compnay, APEX, to start distributing their products in Japan. I was a little hesitant at first, as I had no experience in dealing with bedding products. But I decided to accept their offer. It didn't take long until we had our first hit product. Today, bedding continues to be APEX's main product category" explained Ms. Buell.


When asked about what is the fastest growing of the company’s current product line up, Ms. Buell gave two examples: “We have lap blankets made by a Danish company called Silkeborg Plaid. The wool is made in Sweden. It uses Gotland sheep’s wool. These lap blankets are very warm and soft. They are beautifully designed, too. We also sell vases and other home furnishing items from a company called Born in Sweden. The other month, the vase that I just mentioned was even on the cover of Katei Gaho (one of Japan’s leading monthly women’s lifestyle magazine). Right now, I would say these are our hottest products” said Ms. Buell.


Ms. Buell is the president of another company called ALTO. It is a “Lifestyle Produce” company that provides product development services. “For example, we provide concept design work for Nitori (a leading Japanese homeware retailer)” explained Ms. Buell. The company also runs a retail store called INTERIOR SHOP ALTO and a café called Café Hygge within a short walking distance from JR Takasaki station in Gunma Prefecture.


When asked why she operates a B-to-C arm in addition to a B-to-B arm, Ms. Buell provided the following explanation:

“I believe that as a supplier of Nordic products, I must strive to do more than simply provide the goods to our Japanese customers. I consider it my responsibility to correctly communicate the underlying values – for example the lifestyle of the people from Nordic countries – to every customer. This is because sometimes customers do not fully understand how to best utilize the products. I’m responsible to ensure that our customers can further enrich their lives through our products. These are the reasons why I decided to establish the shop and the café. I’ve also published two books about Nordic lifestyle. The second of these books is about how to develop better work and life habits by embracing fika”.


As an ambassador of Nordic products, Ms. Buell also believes it is important for everybody working for her to actively practice the workstyles of Nordic countries:

“At APEX we have a very flexible workstyle. Everybody can choose to work from home if they want to. In fact, some of our staff only come to this office two or three days a week. Also, the minimum length of a paid-holiday is one hour. This makes it easier for those with young children to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It also makes it easier for our employees to schedule in small appointments during a workday. For example, going to the dentist”.

Although Ms. Buell did not explicitly mention fika, it is safe to assume that this time-honored Swedish custom is widely practiced by everybody working at her office.


We would like to extend a warm welcome to APEX Co., Ltd as a new member of SCCJ. You can find out more about APEX Co., Ltd at:

この十数年間の間に、北欧やスウェーデンでデザインされ、作られた製品は日本の市場に浸透してきた。ほんの少し例を挙げると、アクセサリーやベッド用品、衣類などである。ただ、日本の消費者をこれらの製品を"ただ使用する"だけで、自らの生活をより良くするために使おうとはしていない。APEX Co., Ltdで代表取締役を務めるビューエル芳子氏は、まだ日本の人々に理解されていないスウェーデンや北欧流の生き方を伝えることは、向こうの製品をきちんと利用できるようになるだけでなく、最終的にはより豊かな暮らしをかなえることにつながると考えている。






現在特に成長している製品ラインナップについて尋ねると、ビューエル氏は2つの例を挙げた。「Silkeborg Plaidというデンマークの会社が作った膝掛けがあります。ウールはスウェーデンのゴットランドで作られており、膝掛け自体はとても暖かくて柔らかいだけでなく、デザインも美しいのです。さらにスウェーデンのBorn社が制作した花瓶や家具も扱っています。先日、この花瓶は日本の月刊誌家庭画報の表紙を飾りました。今はこれらがヒット商品ですね」


ビューエル氏は別のALTOという会社でも代表取締役を務めている。こちらは"ライフスタイルプロデュース"の会社で、製品改良のアドバイスを行っている。「例えば、ニトリにたいしてコンセプトデザインを提供しています」。この会社はINTERIOR SHOP ALTOという小売りのお店や、Café Hyggeというカフェも経営しており、どちらも群馬県のJR高崎駅から徒歩圏内だ。









APEX Co., LtdをSCCJの新しいメンバーとして心より歓迎いたします。APEX Co., Ltdについて詳しくはこちらからご覧いただけます。