Ito-Yokado Founder Masatoshi Ito Dies


Tokyo, March 13 (Jiji Press)--Masatoshi Ito, the founder of Japanese supermarket chain Ito-Yokado Co. who built the foundations for what became retailing giant Seven & i Holdings Co. <3382>, died of old age on Friday. He was 98.

Ito, born in Tokyo in 1924, graduated from a commercial school in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, and entered a predecessor company of Mitsubishi Materials Corp. <5711> in 1944. He started helping at his family business, a small clothing shop in Tokyo, after the end of World War II, establishing Yokado, later renamed Ito-Yokado, in 1958.

After going on an overseas study tour in 1961, Ito launched U.S.-style self-service supermarket operations, becoming a pioneer of such retailing in Japan. The business later evolved into the Seven & i Holdings group, which has major convenience store chain Seven-Eleven Japan Co. at its core.

In fiscal 1980, Ito-Yokado produced the biggest ordinary profit among all retailers in the country. He stepped down as Ito-Yokado president in October 1992, however, to take responsibility for a scandal involving Ito-Yokado officials giving a favor to corporate extortionists.

Ito served as chairman of the Japan Chain Stores Association. As a philanthropist, he launched the Ito Scholarship Foundation dedicated to providing youngsters with educational opportunities.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press