Business / Corporate

Japanese retail giant Aeon appoints first new president in 23 years

Kyodo

Japanese retail giant Aeon Co. has promoted Executive Vice President Akio Yoshida to president effective March 1, the first change in the post in 23 years.

Yoshida, 59, will succeed Motoya Okada, 68, a member of the founding family of the retailer, who will become chairman and retain his position as CEO.

Aeon aims to strengthen its online sales and other digital operations under the new top management in the face of stiff competition with rivals’ convenience stores and other specialty stores such as Fast Retailing Co.

“We selected an individual who would be able to make objective predictions, at a time when changes occur swiftly,” Okada said during a news conference Friday at the company’s head office in Chiba Prefecture.

“I will endeavor to carry out my duties without losing sight of the direction of reform,” Yoshida said.

After joining the company, formerly known as Jusco Co., in 1983, Yoshida served as president of subsidiary Aeon Mall Co. and oversaw the real estate business and digital operations of Aeon Co. before taking his current post last March.

Okada, the eldest son of Takuya Okada, honorary chairman, who is credited with making Aeon a major retailer, became president in 1997. He helped the firm become the biggest retailer by revenue in Japan through aggressive overseas expansion and business acquisitions.

“Most of the authority will go to the upcoming president,” Okada said. “I’ll focus mainly on our group’s strategy.”

Aeon the same day reported a group net loss of ¥6.3 billion ($58 million) in the nine months to November, compared with a net profit of ¥600 million a year earlier.

Although Aeon has been profitable in its financial and overseas businesses, it has been struggling in the supermarket business in Japan.