Japan Today editor Chris Betros visited Bill Werlin at the KEEN office in Minami-Azabu, Tokyo. Overseeing the company’s Asia Pacific operations is Bill Werlin – a vast market that takes him as far west as India and south to Australia and New Zealand.
Here’s a excerpt from the interview.
What are your best-selling brands in Japan?
The Newport (protective toe sandal), which retails at 18,000 yen. It’s a great all-purpose, all-terrain activity shoe. The Jasper (12,000 yen) is another popular shoe.
Are there some unique characteristics in the Japanese market?
The Japanese are into bright colorful footwear more than anywhere else. The Japanese consumer falls in love with the brand and the product. They continually want to purchase that product. They do like to see new colors and patterns but want the tried and true product. We introduce new styles on a seasonal basis.
How many markets do you oversee?
Besides Japan, I am in charge of Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea. At this point, we are coalescing the market. Up until now, there was nobody really in charge of the Asia-Pacific region.
How do you like to relax when you are not travelling or working?
I ski, play golf, softball, squash, and I have a Harley. I am also involved with Yokohama International School.