Masatoshi Ito, the Japanese billionaire behind the rise of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain, died at 98. Ito founded the Seven-Eleven Japan Co. in 1973 and built it into a retail powerhouse with more than 20,000 stores nationwide. The chain expanded internationally in the 1980s, with over 67,000 7-Eleven stores in 18 countries. Ito’s success made him one of Japan’s wealthiest men, and he was ranked by Forbes magazine as the country’s fourth-wealthiest person in 2015, with a net worth of $17.6 billion. 7-Eleven Japan announced Ito’s death on Sunday. A reason for death was not provided, but the company said he had been in poor condition for some time.
In the early days of his business career, Masatoshi Ito scraped by, selling rice cakes from a pushcart on the streets of Tokyo.
It was a humble beginning for the man who would become one of Japan’s wealthiest men and the driving force behind its ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores.
But it was also a time of great opportunity in Japan, and Mr. Ito quickly seized it.
In the years after World War II, he built a small empire of businesses, including a successful real estate company and a chain of motor hotels.
But his foray into the convenience store business would make him a household name.
In 1974, Mr. Ito founded the first 7-Eleven in Tokyo. The store was an instant hit, and Mr. Ito quickly expanded his empire, opening stores across Japan and worldwide.
Today, there are over 60,000 7-Eleven stores in 18 countries, and the company is commanding the global convenience store market.
Mr. Ito’s story is a classic rags-to-riches tale, and his success is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and vision. He was a true pioneer in the convenience store industry, and his legacy will continue to be felt for years.
Ito-san was born in 1921 in Osaka, Japan. He started his career as a salesman for a local company before moving to Tokyo to work for a supermarket chain. In the early 1960s, he was recruited by the American company The Southland Corporation to help open the first 7-Eleven store in Japan.
Ito-san was instrumental in the success of 7-Eleven in Japan. He helped the company navigate the cultural differences between the United States and Japan and was a driving force behind the company’s expansion in the Japanese market.
In the years after Seven-Eleven Japan acquired 7-Eleven, Ito-san played an essential role in the company. He served as the chairman of the board of Seven-Eleven Japan from 2005 to 2015 and was a member of the board of directors of Seven & I Holdings, the parent company of Sev.