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TOKYO -- 7-Eleven Inc. parent company Seven & i Holdings Co. today celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first store opening in Japan.
The convenience store, which opened in the Toyosu district of Koto Ward, Tokyo, on May 15, 1974, marked the beginning of a massive c-store network under a franchise system with a head office in the Land of the Rising Sun.
According to The Japan News, Kenji Yamamoto, now 64, opened the Toyosu store by converting a liquor shop he took over from his father. Yamamoto had read in the newspaper more than 40 years ago that supermarket chain Ito-Yokado Co. planned to team with U.S. retailer Southland Corp. to run convenience stores in Japan and wrote to Ito-Yakodo to learn more information.
On New Year's Day in 1974, Toshifumi Suzuki, then director of Ito-Yakodo, visited Yamamoto and invited him to open a c-store.
"If you're willing to start, we want to do it as soon as possible," Yamamoto quoted Suzuki as saying.
Yamamoto now runs five 7-Eleven locations in Toyosu. As for his keys to continued success, he said he makes sure the store never runs out of stock and offers many new products to entice customers.
"There's still a lot convenience stores can do," Yamamoto told The Japan News. One of his ideas is to make 7-Eleven locations serve as agencies for a variety of services in the local community.
In the United States, Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises and licenses more than 8,200 c-stores.