"Still today, the symbolism of Nijubashi lives on in our company: The employees of ILLIES understand their role as the bridge between world-wide customers and suppliers."

C. Michael Illies – President

K.K. IRISU at a glance

The history of K.K. IRISU (ILLIES) started 1859 in Dejima-Nagasaki. On the company´s customer lists some famous names are to be found: Yukichi Fukuzawa -  who´s portrait is depicted on the 10,000 Japanese yen note - once bought dictionaries from the predecessor of K.K. IRISU, important feudal families of the late Edo period as well as Yataro Iwasaki (Founder of Mitsubishi Corp.). K.K. IRISU as the nucleus of the ILLIES GROUP has been providing cutting-edge technologies from overseas to Japan and was substantially involved in the country’s modernization and monozukuri.

In 1898 the Headquaters were relocated to Hamburg, Germany.  Today the ILLIES GROUP is still family owned and managed – by the fifth generation of Illies.  As project and sales partner the company links world-leading technology providers with the manufacturing industry in Asian markets with unchanging frontier spirit.

As an important member of the ILLIES Group, K.K. IRISU (ILLIES) supplies and services a wide-range of technologies related to printing and paper converting, automotive, aircraft and aerospace, food, rubber processing industries as well as quality assurance systems and technical materials.

K.K. IRISU (ILLIES) is specialized in introducing technically sophisticated capital goods and technologies to the Japanese market just like in complex project management for the local industrial customers in Japan.




1880s & 1890s

1900s & 1910s

1920s & 1930s

1940s & 1950s

1960s & 1970s

1980s & 1990s

2000s - 2015



Establishment of the company on the island Dejima in Nagasaki, by German merchants Louis Kniffler and Hermann Gildemeister.

Within five years the company becomes the largest German trading firm in Nagasaki.


Carl Illies joins the company. He assumes leadership of the Nagasaki branch in 1868.

Under his management the Yokohama and Tokyo branch become the center hub of the company.

1880s & 1890s

Carl Illies becomes sole shareholder in 1880. The company is renamed C.ILLIES CO. (IRISU イリス Shokai). 

ILLIES obtains the agentship of the KRUPP corporation and plays an important part in the development of the Japanese railway network. Nippon Tetsudo Railway Company and Kyushu Railway Company are among the key customers.

In October 1886 ILLIES completed a modern European style bridge at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The bridge called Niju-Bashi-Bridge becomes symbol of the high standing that the company already enjoyed in Japan back then.


1900s & 1910s

Carl Illies is among the founders of the German Asia-Pacific Business Association (OAV) in Hamburg and becomes its first president.

In 1910, he hands the business over to the second generation: Carl Illies junior is named new President of ILLIES.

World War I ends all trade between Germany and Japan. All branch offices of German companies are closed down. The company's successful expansion collapses.
As employees of the company had remained in Japan, ILLIES is quickly able to resume trading in 1919, reopening its branches in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, and Osaka.

Carl Illies junior starts a mission for the return of German POWs from Japan.

1920s & 1930s

After the war, Japanese companies show great interest in German technology, particularly in areas of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and aircraft construction. ILLIES concludes agency agreements with well-known German companies including BOSCH, BLEICHER, BMW, DORNIER, and MAN.

On September 1st 1923, Tokyo and Yokohama are hit by the Great Kanto Earthquake, resulting in 105,000 deaths. ILLIES incurs a devastating blow with the destruction of its Tokyo and Yokohama Office and the loss of all business documents and records. Due to this catastrophe, several of ILLIES' customers become insolvent.

During the world economic crisis the trading volume falls by 70% and the number of employees from 200 to 30.

Despite the collapse of the markets, ILLIES manages a quick recovery and establishes new branches in Shenyang and Changchun in 1932, as well as in Manila in 1938 and Beijing in 1939.

In 1935 the third generation of Illies assumes management: C. Jürgen Illies is named new President.

1940s & 1950s

The outbreak of World War II in the Pacific results in the closure of the branches in Manila, Japan, Manchuria, and China.

After the capitulation of Germany and Japan, the American military government in Japan expropriates all of ILLIES’ assets. The offices in East Asia are closed down. German trade with East Asia ceases to exist.

In 1950 the growing Japanese economy allows ILLIES to resume its business activities in Japan, and the offices in Osaka and Tokyo reopen.

South Korea's economic upturn of the late 1950s is largely driven by the textile industry. ILLIES advances to become chief supplier to the industry leader Cheil Wool (SAMSUNG Group).

In 1956 KARL MAYER Textilmaschinen GmbH grants ILLIES exclusive representation for the Japanese and Korean market.

In 1957 ILLIES opens a branch office and a service department in Seoul. Kiel Bong Park joins ILLIES at the recommendation of SAMSUNG founder B.C. Lee. Park later becomes partner in the firm in Korea and helps expand its portfolio beyond textile machines serving the fast growing Korean economy.

The Hamburg head office is relocated to modern premises in the UFA Palast in 1958, in the same year ILLIES opens a branch office in Vietnam. 

1960s & 1970s

Decades of market expertise in Japan and China begin to pay off. The business expansion in all Asian countries is initially based on ILLIES' far reaching competence in textile technology and broad portfolio of textile machinery. ILLIES later begins to sell machinery for the food sector and, finally, complete industrial production plants as turnkey contractor.

Carl-Heinz Illies takes over the fourth generation management. In 1967 Klaus Lindhorst – who later becomes partner – joins the company and takes the helm in Tokyo, and responsibility for the Asian offices. They jointly manage the ILLIES GROUP during the next 35 years and lead the company to new heights. In the same year ILLIES opens new offices in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

A Manila-based partnership with Antonio and John Rocha under the name of ILLIES ENGINEERING (PHILS.) INC. is founded.

Over the following years ILLIES broadens the company's geographical reach. In 1974 a branch office in Hong Kong is established.

1980s & 1990s

Carl-Heinz Illies is elected chairman of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce in 1981.

In 1984 the company's 125th anniversary is held in Tokyo. Germany's former chancellor Helmut Schmidt gives the keynote address.

The opening of China under Deng Xiaoping marks the starting point of another successful expansion. In order to serve the entire Chinese economic region, ILLIES establishes new branches in Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai along with further liaison offices in various provinces.

In 1993 ILLIES establishes a technical service center in Shanghai. At the same time ILLIES introduces after-sales-services to its Chinese costumers, establishing itself as innovator in this field.

In 1998 ILLIES quickly recovers from the Asian Economic Crisis, due to the wide spectrum of its product portfolio and geographical reach, from Japan to China and South East Asia.

2000s - 2015

ILLIES establishes new branches in India (Mumbai) and Indonesia (Jakarta and Bandung), two of Asia's fastest growing economies.

With C. Michael Illies, the family's fifth generation takes the helm in 1995. Together with his partners André Piédavent and Rolf Strerath, he forms the new management board.

ILLIES celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2009.

A technical service center is set up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2015.

In 2015 Dr. Wolfgang Flägel, Gerd Knospe and Jan Rundshagen join ILLIES management. 


ILLIES offers a comprehensive portfolio of advanced industrial technologies and innovative services, including extensive after-sales service structure in seven Asian markets with 12 branch offices.

In November 2017, the ILLIES GROUP successfully acquired Ferrostaal Thailand Co. Ltd. The newest member of the ILLIES GROUP was renamed in C. ILLIES (Thailand) Co., Ltd. With the strong and solid background of the company, ILLIES now expects positive synergies and expansion of the existing portfolio to Thailand.

Further, the ILLIES GROUP continues to focus on new technologies and the distribution in various Asian markets as well as on successful customer service by enlarging for example, the Service Station in Ho Chi Minh City and opening an innovative showroom for 3D solutions in Tokyo.

“Instead of guarding the ashes of the past, we kindle the flames of the future.”


Carl-Heinz Illies (1935-1995)

The Management

The Management

Hartmut Pannen

Harmut Pannen

Peter Korn

Vice President
Peter Korn

Max Illies

Vice President
Max Illies

Message from the management

IRISU was established in Japan in 1859. Our uninterrupted presence in modern Japan for over 160 years emphasizes our commitment to Japan and to our business partners here. Irisu accompanied Japan and its industrial rise on their way into the modern world.
We did so by being a reliable and trusted partner providing high-quality machines and services by worldwide first-class suppliers. Advanced technology is certainly a basic requirement for the implementation of any competitive industrial project. However, we strongly believe that careful listening and effective dialogue are essential for achieving successful results. This is the foundation of our business philosophy and a long term understanding of partnership.

Facts & Figures

   Name    K.K. IRISU (C. ILLIES & CO., LTD.)
   Established    1859
   Capital    JPY30,000,000
   President & CEO    Hartmut Pannen, President
   Number of Employees    54 (Tokyo 40, Osaka12, Nagoya 2)
   Tokyo Headquarters    Irisu Building, 3-12-18 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0021
    Tel +81(0)3 3443 4111  Fax +81 (0)3 3443 4118
   Osaka Office    Semba Central Building 6F, 2-6-8 Hommachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 541-0053
    Tel +81 (0)6 6252 6891 Fax +81 (0)6 6244 0616
   Nagoya Office    3-8 Yashirodai, Meito-ku, Nagoya 465-0092
    Tel +81 (0)52 990 9200 Fax +81 (0)990 9210
   Email    japan-mpit@illies.de
   Major Banks    Mitsui Sumitomo Bank, Gotanda Branch
    Mizuho Bank, Roppongi Corporate Business Office No.1
    MUFJ Bank, Gotanda Branch

    Company Overview (PDF)


IRISU vision

"Excellence in sales and service"

  • Know-how in technology and production processes
  • Understanding of markets and market intelligence
  • Reliable project execution
  • Rapid service response
  • Trusted partner for the best in class
  • Top performing teams
  • Lean organization


Quality Policy

In order to realize our "Vision", we will continuously improve ourselves based on the following three policies.

1. To be close to our customers and provide added value to them.

2. Comply with laws and regulations, and guide our customers with correct actions.

3. Acquire knowledge and skills that make customers feel truly at ease.

Corporate Governance

At K. K. IRISU (ILLIES), we believe that the dedication and expertise of our reliable staff is our greatest asset. We are committed to the needs of our customers and continuously strive for excellence. For us, integrity is more important than short-term success.

We are always aware of our obligations towards our business partners, employees, and shareholders. Our goal is to provide value-adding functions. We strive to accomplish this by promoting innovative technology solutions and a comprehensive range of personal services.

Our code of conduct and adherence to Corporate Compliance define our core values (read more).


K.K. IRISU (C. ILLIES & CO., LTD.) has obtained the aerospace quality management system standard EN 9120 for Aerospace Products Handling Team of MPI Technology Department of its Tokyo office.