Yanagiya Honten has introduced a wealth of products during the 400 years of its existence. Our mission is to apply these accumulated formulas - which we also consider "assets" - to the creation of new products meeting needs and supporting beauty in the modern age.
With regard to product development, we've adopted an assignment system under which directors bear responsibility for planning and research activities. The planners develop product concepts which clearly reflect market and customer needs, and pass the baton to highly skilled R&D staff. Comprehensive, integrated conducting and oversight of research, trial production, product testing, manufacturing procedures, quality assurance and quality control after filling enables us to quickly deliver the highest quality products to our customers. We are never content with what we've achieved, never resting on our laurels - in developing our products we proactively work with new raw materials and new technologies with the cooperation of material manufacturers with the goal of looking beyond the present day at the needs of tomorrow.
In 2011 we relocated the Kanagawa Science Park to Takanawa, Minato Ward, further strengthening cooperation with headquarters. We've also increased the proportion of female researchers as incorporating their perspective is crucial in ensuring that our products are of the highest possible quality and are an optimum match for customer needs.
Yanagiya Honten has implemented a nationwide distributor system, and we deliver our products to market via this expansive logistics network. Based on the trust we've earned over the years, our role is to work closely with sales offices to distribute products to customers in a timely manner.
Given our objective, it's vital that we maintain healthy communication with our business partners. In addition to meetings with our distributors, our sales offices are actively involved in suspended shelves and displays, retail outlet proposals and promotional campaigns and activities. Sampling at retail outlets in particular is a unique opportunity for us to obtain feedback directly from our customers. Furthermore, as appropriate we circulate information internally that's been provided by our distributors and sales offices for consideration and incorporation into product planning and development as well as sales promotion.
We currently have sales offices in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka, giving us nationwide coverage. Additionally, drawing on our online and offline strengths, these offices communicate and cooperate regularly with one another. Most importantly, we keep an ear to the ground to maintain an awareness of market conditions, which allows us to flexibly respond to changing needs and explore new markets.
Our overseas operations are presently focused on indirect commerce, and as such we conduct export activities through trading companies with strong presences in markets abroad. From Southeast Asia centering on Taiwan to limited activities in the United States, we are currently undertaking product sales in more than 20 countries around the world.
The International Trade Office handles all duties related to exports, including product selection and communication with trading companies. Yanagiya Honten has a long history of trade activities stretching back more than half a century. During that time the popularity of men's hair tonic products has grown considerably, and these products continue to sell well abroad as they have in Japan. The recognition of and appreciation for Japan's superior product quality is strong across Asia, and this is reflected in the sales figures region wide.
Interest in and desire for cosmetic products has increased in Asian countries in recent years, which naturally has resulted in demand for higher-quality products. Going forward, while we roll out products in new countries and markets, we also want to further expand the recognition of the exceptional quality of our products. And, given increased demand for high-quality cosmetic products for women, we are placing greater emphasis on the selection of materials appropriate to individual countries and markets.
On a contract basis, we conduct OEM manufacturing primarily for makers and sales offices. With Yanagiya's excellent product formulas, we plan and manufacture original products that reflect the requests and needs of our customers. As formula development is overseen by research experts with vast experience - just as with our own products - we are proud to offer products that meet our clients' demanding requirements.
Our management of the production process not only enables the effective management of planning and development costs, but also leads to reduced losses in distribution and rapid delivery of products to the marketplace. Additionally, even companies that do not possess manufacturing facilities for cosmetic and quasi-drug products can offer enriched product lineups at low cost. You can rely on our specified knowledge and our familiarity with the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act.
In recent years the introduction of private brands via major distributors to GMS has grown rapidly, and by conducting planning and production together with national brands, quality has also risen quickly. As support for private brands grows among general consumers, the quality they demand also increases. Particularly for cosmetic and quasi-drug products, safety is paramount. We look forward to applying our capabilities in planning and development, cultivated over a period of many years, to the development of private brands for clients for years to come.