Japan's am-images Merges With Aflo

Posted on 5/2/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Aflo Co., Ltd., one of Japan's leading stock-image providers, is absorbing the operations of its younger Tokyo neighbor am-images, now dissolved as a separate business entity. The two companies report an amicable merger without disclosing financial details.

am-images was established in 1990 and has since built an exclusive collection of 70,000 travel and floral photos and illustrations. Its seven employees will be joining 125 Aflo staffers, who work in four offices.

Photographer Koji Aoki founded Aflo in 1980. Today, the company is the second-largest player in Japan and is among the top global revenue producers. Selling Stock estimates that Aflo outsells a21, Blend and Bridgeman, while trailing behind Image Source, Alamy and Masterfile. Having launched an English-language Web site two years ago, Aflo describes its presence outside of Japan as growing steadily.

Aflo offers the full range of royalty-free and rights-managed imagery for creative and editorial uses at traditional prices. The company also offers assignment services and has a dedicated sports-photographer team. Aflo's own stock production includes the royalty-free sports brand Score and the rights-managed lifestyle collection Relax.

In addition, the agency represents local and international third-party collections. It recently negotiated a representation agreement with Japan's oldest newspaper, The Mainichi Shinbun, adding 230,000 digitized and millions of archival images to the stock offering.

Industry consolidation continues globally, with Japan mirroring the trends observed in the U.S. Aflo's merger with am-images follows a 2006 acquisition of the Tokyo-based Bon Color Photo Agency and its 1-million-image inventory. Japanese image leader Amana, Inc. also acquired several independent stock agencies. In 2006, its investments included purchasing 98% of Digital Archive Japan (now Sebum) in December, the entire stock-photo division of Imperial Press Japan in August and 75% of aiwest shares in June.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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