TOKYO — Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd. has changed its board of directors structure with the goal of achieving growth in the global market and enhancing its corporate value, the Tokyo-based parent company of 7-Eleven Inc. has announced. This growth strategy includes a focus on U.S. foodservice, adding Elizabeth Miin Meyerdirk, a founding member of Uber Eats, to its board as an independent outside director.
The changes come in part in response to ongoing activist investor pressure. In February, San Francisco-based stakeholder ValueAct Capital renewed its efforts to effect change at Seven & i to fix what it sees as corporate governance and management issues not aligned with shareholder value and to “more than double” the company’s share price.
ValueAct has put forth a plan for Seven & i to focus on its convenience-store business and to restructure or exit its noncore businesses, as well as to “rapidly restructure the company to focus on its food retail operations … outside of Japan, including the U.S. expense base and fresh food opportunity, as well as the international growth opportunity, culminating in new targets and a roadmap to achieve them.”
Transitioning “to a board with a majority of outside directors that can objectively assess strategy, from a majority of inside directors with conflicts of interest [and transitioning] to a globally coordinated management structure focused on 7-Eleven, from a complex holding company management structure” was also part ValueAct’s proposed plan.
Seven & i has also “intensively engaged in constructive discussions with domestic and overseas institutional investors and shareholders in order to globalize its businesses and implement reforms in consideration of the voices from capital markets,” the company said. “Based on the input obtained in that process, the company has been seriously reviewing its board structure and what additional experience and skills are required.”
Seven & i has made the following changes to its board structure:
- Most of the directors will be independent outside directors “to ensure the effectiveness of its supervisory function.”
- Two of the five independent outside director candidates will be female and three will be non-Japanese, “taking into account diversity [and to reflect] a higher focus being placed on the experience and skills required of newly appointed outside directors, such as experience in corporate management, experience in retail business, experience in overseas businesses and knowledge of capital markets.”
- The number of internal directors will be reduced by two, for a total of six, “to strike a balance between business management and supervisory function and to ensure agile decision-making.”
These changes will result in a total of eight independent outside directors, including re-appointees, and will “help the company secure diversity in knowledge, experience and capabilities, and make the company’s system better suited to pursue its global growth strategy.
Meyerdirk, who will assume the post independent outside director upon approval at Seven & i’s 17th annual shareholders’ meeting on May 26, has experience as one of the founding members of Uber Eats, as well as managing other U.S. e-commerce companies, and “has a wide range of expertise and experience in areas such as DX (digital transformation) and marketing,” the company said.
Meyerdirk currently is CEO of Favor, San Francisco, a women’s empowerment organization. She was global head of business development for Uber Eats, San Francisco, from 2015 to late 2020.
In 2020, 7-Eleven added Uber Eats to its delivery roster among other delivery services that offer 7-Eleven products.
“We believe that Ms. Meyerdirk’s wide range of expertise and experience in areas such as DX (digital transformation) and marketing as one of the founding members of Uber Eats, as well as managing other e-commerce companies in the U.S. will support the optimization of our DX and Last One Mile strategies such as 7NOW and Ito-Yokado’s Net Super,” Seven & i told CSP.
Earlier this year, 7-Eleven Inc. and Seven-Eleven Japan formed a new globally focused company, 7-Eleven International LLC (7IN). By combining the strengths that joint owners cultivated in their local markets into the new entity, 7IN will be able to better leverage 7-Eleven’s product development capabilities, digital technology and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives while maintaining its position as a global brand, the company said.
Along with this change, the company revitalized its leadership team in support of international growth and enhancement of the 7-Eleven brand worldwide, it said. Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Inc., Chris Tanco, executive vice president and COO, and Stan Reynolds, executive vice president and CFO, will serve on the 7IN board with Ken Wakabayashi, previously 7-Eleven Inc.’s senior vice president and head of international. The company has named Wakabayashi co-CEO of 7IN along with Shinji Abe of Seven-Eleven Japan.
Seven & i owns approximately 170 retail companies with more than 70,000 stores worldwide. Along with 7-Eleven Inc., major subsidiaries include c-store chain Seven-Eleven Japan, department store chains Ito-Yokado Co. and Sogo & Seibu, Seven & i Food Systems, Tower Records Japan and Seven Bank.
- 7-Eleven is No. 1 on CSP’s 2022 Top 40 Update to the 2021 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2022 Top 202 ranking in the June issue of CSP magazine and in CSP Daily News.
7–Eleven, based in Irving, Texas, operates, franchises or licenses more than 77,700 stores in 19 countries and regions, including about 9,500 in the United States under the 7-Eleven banner, about 3,800 under the Speedway banner and about 500 under the Stripes flag, as well as the Laredo Taco Company and Raise the Roost Chicken and Biscuits brands.
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