Business & EconomyMasatoshi, Japanese billionaire responsible for the rise of 7-11 dies at 98

Masatoshi, Japanese billionaire responsible for the rise of 7-11 dies at 98

Japanese billionaire, Masatoshi Ito who was responsible for the rise of 7-Eleven convenience stores all over the world died at 98.

His death on March 10 was confirmed by Seven & I Holdings (SVNDF) which is the operator of 7-Eleven.

The company issued a statement saying, “We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your kindness and friendship during his life and respectfully inform you of his passing.”

Ito made 7-Eleven an international brand. According to CNN Business, SVNDF now operates more than 83,000 stores around the world including 7-Eleven shops in 19 regions. It competitors are the Lawson and Family Mart store which also happen to be Japanese owned.

Ito had said way back in 1988 that when he traveled to the US in 1960 that he had a culture shock to see how rich everyone appeared when Japan was just recovering from the aftermath of World War II.

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“I became particularly conscious of the sheer size of America’s consumer society and the distribution techniques that made it all possible. It then occurred to me that people in different cultures still have basically the same desires, assuming that they are at the same stage of development, and I thought that Japan’s distribution system would become more like America’s as the Japanese consumer society grew bigger.”

How Masatoshi Started 7-Eleven

Masatoshi Ito got his first break in 1958 when he became president of his family run apparel store. He later started selling food and other necessities. He renamed the company Ito Yokado and ran it like a supermarket.

He then went on to sign a contract with 7-Eleven’s owner, the Southland Corporation and opened Japan’s first 7-Eleven in Tokyo in 1974. His firm then acquired a controlling stake in Southland in March 1991. In 2005, SVNDF was established as the holding company of Ito-Yokado and 7-Eleven Japan and Ito remained its honorary chairman until his death.

In the same interview in 1988 with The Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry Masatoshi Ito had said, “I am frequently asked if I succeeded because of hard work or because I was just lucky. The answer is some of both.”

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