Seibu Department Stores Ltd. and Sogo Co. integrated their operations Sunday to form one of Japan’s largest department store groups.

Sogo Inc., which had overseen the Sogo group, has become holding company Millennium Retailing Inc., based in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward and capitalized at 10 million yen.

Seibu and Sogo Co. had combined operating revenues of more than 1 trillion yen in fiscal 2002. This makes Millennium Retailing comparable to industry leaders such as Takashimaya Co. in terms of annual sales.

Former Sogo Inc. President Shigeaki Wada became president of the new holding company, while former managing director Fumiaki Osaki became president of Seibu and former director Shunichiro Uchimura became president of Sogo Co.

Millennium Retailing said the group will strive to improve the profitability of the two department stores under their respective brand names.

Seibu and Sogo aim to regain their competitiveness and improve customer services, the holding company said.

Seibu, based in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward, has 21 outlets. The Yokohama-based Sogo has 11 stores.

Seibu, which used to be a conglomerate with far-reaching operations, is reconstructing after receiving a 230 billion yen bailout package from its lenders earlier this year.

Sogo, once the country’s largest retailer, emerged from bankruptcy in January under the firm restructuring hand of Wada, a former president of Seibu with a reputation as a turnaround specialist.

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