Tsuneo Okubo to take charge of Seiyu as Investment firm KKR becomes majority shareholder

JAPAN – Seiyu’s shareholders confirmed the appointment of Mr. Tsuneo Okubo as CEO even as the Japanese retail chain confirms change of ownership structure.

According to a statement from Seiyu, leading global investment firm KKR will now become the majority shareholder in Seiyu after completing the process of acquiring shares of the Japanese supermarket from American retail chain Walmart.

With the completion of the transactions, KKR now owns a 65% stake in Seiyu while Japanese technology company Rakuten will control a 20% stake in the chain.

The US retail giant Walmart retains a 15% stake in Seiyu.

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Seiyu in a statement said that the new ownership structure enables it to take advantage of KKR, Rakuten and Walmart’s combined retail expertise and innovation.

Additionally, the company noted that the the mix of investment, retail, and technology investors will also assist in accelerating Seiyu’s digital transformation to become Japan’s leading omnichannel retailer.

Mr. Tsuneo Okubo to take charge of Seiyu

As he takes helm of the fast rising Japanese retail supermarket, Mr. Okubo will be charged with the task of leading the Company into its next phase of development and growth.

Mr. Okubo’s decades-long career in Japan’s retail sector includes senior roles for national supermarket chains.

He brings to Seiyu a strong track record of elevating corporate strategies and performance through digital innovation, enhancing the operations of physical stores, and localizing businesses to meet the evolving needs of shoppers in communities across Japan.

Mr. Okubo said, “I am thrilled to be joining Seiyu at such an important moment in its history.

Together with KKR, Rakuten, and Walmart, we have a tremendous opportunity to build on Seiyu’s achievements and stature in the market to take its business to the next level of success.”

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A company on the rise

In 2020, Seiyu achieved its highest sales and profitability levels of the last decade, with net sales growing by 5.6% to JPY785 billion, generating an EBITDA2 margin of nearly 5%.

Over the past two consecutive fiscal years, Seiyu gained market share and improved profitability.

Cumulatively over this period, Seiyu’s comparative-store sales grew 180 basis points faster than the market, and the company’s EBITDA increased by nearly 40%.

In addition, Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, jointly operated by Seiyu and Rakuten, recorded a nearly 40% year-on-year increase in gross merchandise sales in the fourth quarter of 2020.

With the significant increase in demand for online supermarkets in recent years, a dedicated fulfillment center began operations in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture in January 2021.

A new fulfillment center is also scheduled to open in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture within the year to meet this growing demand.

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