Daiei Inc. Chairman and President Isao Nakauchi, who established the nation’s largest supermarket chain operator, relinquished his post as president to accelerate its restructuring efforts, Daiei officials said Wednesday.

Executive Vice President Tadasu Toba, 68, was promoted the same day to president.

Nakauchi, 76, said at a Tokyo press conference that he will give up the post to give more freedom to younger executives, who often hesitate to oppose opinions of the firm’s founder. “Whenever I said something, it automatically became a conclusion” in management decision making, Nakauchi said.

Nakauchi said the new appointment is aimed at enabling all executives to participate in top decision making, and “raise awareness” of all employees to overcome the firm’s difficult situation.

Another executive vice president, Jun Nakauchi, the founder’s son, was appointed the same day as head of a newly created planning section to hammer out “strategies for the 21st century,” the firm added.

The Kobe-based company has suffered huge losses after Nakauchi aggressively expanded the firm’s business during the bubble economy of the late 1980s. The firm posted pretax losses of 25.8 billion yen for fiscal 1997 on an nonconsolidated basis.

The Daiei group is saddled with huge interest-bearing loans of 2.6 trillion yen, which forced Daiei to close 13 stores with poor sales performances in the first half of fiscal 1998.

Nakauchi said he will not withdraw from “the front line” of management as chairman, but he wants to change the current top-down style of management into a group decision making style.

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