Shintaro Tsuji, the 92-year-old founder of Hello Kitty owner Sanrio Co., will step down as president, marking the first change of leadership in its 60-year history.

He will cede the post on July 1 to his 31-year-old grandson Tomokuni Tsuji, a senior managing director, and become chairman, a company source said Friday. He will have the right to represent the Tokyo-based company, which conceived the world-famous feline character in 1974.

The change comes as Sanrio battles the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the temporary closure of its Hello Kitty-themed parks in Japan.