retail empire after the Second World War when he joined his mother andelder brother and began
work in a small clothing store in Tokyo. By 1960, he was in sole control and the single store had
grown into a $3 million company.After a trip to the United States in 1961, Ito became convinced
that superstores were the wave of the future. At that time, Japan was still dominated by Momand-Pop stores. Ito’s chain of superstores in the Tokyo area was instantly popular and soon
constituted the core of Ito-Yokado’s retail operations.
In 1972, Itofirst approached the Southland Corporation about the possibility of opening
Seven-Eleven convenience stores in Japan. After rejecting his initial request,Southland agreed in
1973 to a licensing agreement. In exchange for 0.6 percent of total sales, Southland gave Ito
exclusive rights throughout Japan. In May 1974, thefirst Seven-Eleven convenience store opened
This new concept was an immediate hit in Japan, and Seven-Eleven Japan experienced
tremendous growth. By1979, there were already 591 Seven-Eleven stores in Japan; by 1984,
there were 2,001. Rapid growth continued (see Exhibit 1), resulting in 10,356 stores by2004.
On October 24, 1990, the Southland Corporation entered into bankruptcy protection.
Southland asked for Ito-Yokado’s help, and on March 5, 1991, IYG Holdingwas formed by
Seven-Eleven Japan (48 percent) and Ito-Yokado (52 percent). IYG acquired 70 percent of
Southland’s common stock for a total price of $430 million.