Business / Corporate

Seven & I promotes subsidiary head Isaka as president

KYODO

Seven & I Holdings Co. said Tuesday it will promote Ryuichi Isaka, head of its convenience store chain subsidiary Seven-Eleven Japan Co., to the position of president following a recent power struggle.

The promotion comes days after the conglomerate’s 83-year-old chief executive officer, Toshifumi Suzuki, announced his resignation. He had failed to win board support in his bid to oust 58-year-old Isaka.

Seven & I board members approved the personnel change at their meeting Tuesday. Seven & I Chief Administrative Officer Katsuhiro Goto, 62, will be promoted to the newly created post of vice president.

In March, Seven & I set up a committee that includes outside directors to enhance transparency in personnel appointments, a step widely seen as a test case for Japan Inc.’s corporate governance.

U.S. activist investor Daniel Loeb, whose hedge fund Third Point LLC holds a considerable stake in the retail giant, had supported Isaka in response to his efforts since he became Seven-Eleven Japan president in 2009.

The departure of Suzuki, who was known as a charismatic manager, is expected to put the spotlight on how Seven & I will maintain growth as domestic retailers review their business strategies in the face of the country’s shrinking population.

Suzuki is an iconic figure in Japan’s retail industry who paved the way in the 1970s for 24-hour convenience stores to flourish in the country.

Seven & I was established in 2005 as a holding company that has Seven-Eleven Japan and supermarket store operator Ito-Yokado Co. under its umbrella.