The man behind the success of 7-Eleven

The man behind the success of 7-Eleven

Ito Masatoshi at an event for Japanese company Seven & i Holdings (Sky News Australia, YouTube)

Businessman Ito Masatoshi brought it to Japan from the US and turned it into a company with 83,000 stores: he died March 10

The Japanese billionaire has passed away at the age of 98 Ito Masatoshi, the entrepreneur who brought the American 7-Eleven chain of stores to Japan and turned it into a successful company, with tens of thousands of stores in different parts of the world. Ito took the chain of convenience stores already well known in the US because you can find a little bit of everything there, of all times, and made it a well-known and widespread brand especially in Asia, which now hosts many sites. Ito died on March 10, but the news was reported on Monday by Seven & i Holdings, the Japanese company that now controls the chain.

7-Elevens are small supermarkets that sell a little bit of everything from chips and donuts to drinks and prepared foods to basic medicines. They are mostly located in the central areas of cities and are frequented above all by those who need something on the go, and also because they are often open 24 hours a day. Even if they were born in the United States, today there are also hundreds in Canada, Australia and Scandinavia, but above all in Japan, where there are approximately 21,000.

date of 7 eleven It began in Texas in 1927 with the merger of several ice-distributing companies before refrigerators spread to American homes. The first convenience store selling a little bit of everything opened in Dallas, and then another followed. The chain was called Totem Stores, because the things you bought there could be carried by hand or in a bag (Pregnancy in English). In 1946, in an effort to attract more customers in the difficult immediate post-war period, its name was changed to “7-Eleven” to indicate more clearly the opening hours of the stores, from 7 to 23, 7 days a week: something unprecedented at that time.

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In the same years, Ito has just graduated from Japan. Born on April 30, 1924 in Tokyo, he was the son of merchants selling food and vegetables: after fighting in World War II, a job He worked briefly at a coal mining company, and in 1958 became the head of his uncle’s small Yokado clothing store in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. Building on the model of the supermarkets that had sprung up across the United States, Ito changed the store’s name to Ito-Yokado and began selling everything from food to other staples.

In the 70s of the last century, Ito-Yokado entered into an agreement with the American company that controlled 7-Eleven, which in the meantime had turned into the Southland Corporation, and in 1974 opened the first 7-Eleven in Tokyo. In the same year, the first restaurant of the American fast food chain Denny’s opened in Japan as well.

7-Eleven convenience store in Hyogo Prefecture, near Kyoto and Osaka (Wikimedia Commons)

For his entrepreneurial skills and success in expanding the 7-Eleven brand, Ito has been dubbed the Japanese “Sam Walton”, referring to the founder of the American supermarket chain Walmart, the largest supermarket chain in the world. Great organized distribution. In 1991, at the time of the Southland Corporation crisis, Ito-Yokado acquired a majority of the shares of the American company and in the following years continued to expand the chain of convenience stores in various Asian countries.

with approx 83 thousand Stores in 19 countries and regions of the world, today 7-Eleven is the most widespread supermarket chain of all: about a quarter of its stores are in Japan, then there are more than 20,000 between Thailand and South Korea, about 9,400 in the United States and thousands more in China, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Malaysia and Mexico and other countries.

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In 1992 Ito to resign Of the role of Ito Yokado’s boss in a case of alleged bribes allegedly paid by some company officials to a criminal group. In 2005, the new president, Suzuki Toshifumi, his old assistant, turned Ito-Yokado into Seven & i Holdings, and 7-Eleven Inc. was born as a subsidiary. The “i” in Seven & i Holdings was a reference to the name of the old company, but above all to the name of Ito, who was appointed honorary president.

Today, in addition to controlling the 7-Eleven chain, Seven & i Holdings operates a whole other group of businesses, including approximately 3,900 Speedway stores, located primarily in gas stations in the Midwest and Eastern United States.

– Also read: Economically, Japan is doing things the other way around

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