Company News

Shareholders OK New Seven & i President

Revered predecessor will stay on in advisory role at 7-Eleven parent

TOKYO -- Shareholders of Seven & i Holdings Co. approved on Thursday the appointment of its new president, Ryuichi Isaka, a choice backed by U.S. activist investor Daniel Loeb but opposed by Isaka's longtime predecessor, said a Reuters report.

Isaka Ryuichi

Seven & i, the parent company of 7-Eleven Inc., announced in April it would promote Isaka, head of its convenience-store chain subsidiary Seven-Eleven Japan Co., to the position of president following a recent power struggle.

The promotion came days after the conglomerate’s 83-year-old CEO, Toshifumi Suzuki, announced his resignation after a 24-year reign. He had failed to win board support in his bid to oust 58-year-old Isaka.

But in a sign Isaka may not have a free hand in implementing a radical overhaul of the $90 billion retail conglomerate, the company said Suzuki, widely respected in Japan's retail industry, will stay on as an honorary adviser.

Many of the company's managers and employees still revere Suzuki, a pioneer of Japan's now-ubiquitous convenience stores. Isaka's decision to keep Suzuki on is seen as an olive branch that could help mend a divided board and management, said the report.

Loeb has said the company should focus on growing its profitable convenience-store chain and overhaul its weak Ito-Yokado supermarkets. Investors have also urged it to sell off or restructure its luxury clothing store Barneys Japan, Seibu department stores and mail-order business Nissen.

Suzuki confirmed at Thursday's shareholder meeting that he would stay on as an adviser, and thanked shareholders for their support.

Isaka shook hands with Suzuki at the shareholders' meeting and tried to play down the conflict, saying he aimed to carry on his predecessor's management philosophies, said the report.

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