Masatoshi Ito

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is a Japanese businessman and billionaire.

He is the owner and honorary chairman of $30 billion (sales) Ito-Yokado retailing group, which includes more than 10,000 7-Elevens in Japan and the U.S.Masatoshi Ito is founder and honorary chairman of the Ito-Yokado Group, the second largest retailing organization in the world. Mr. Ito built the company from a small apparel store in Tokyo, into a corporation with annual revenues of more than $28 billion and a labor force of more than 125,000. The Ito-Yokado Group includes more than 10,000 7-Eleven stores in Japan and 5,800 in North America, along with 1,000 other stores—department stores, restaurants, specialty shops, supermarkets, and superstores. Ito-Yokado is also the Japanese franchisee for Oshman’s sporting goods stores, Robinson’s department stores, and Denny’s restaurants. Recently the company has begun opening superstores in China.

The relationship between Peter Drucker and Masatoshi Ito goes back three decades. It has never been consultant-client, but rather a meeting of friends. “Whenever Mr. Ito was in this country or when I was in Japan, I spent an afternoon or a day or a long evening with him,” says Dr. Drucker. They discussed the world economy, the Japanese economy, and the direction in which Mr. Ito should be planning. “He credits me, quite undeservedly, with a lot of his success,” says Dr. Drucker. For example, Ito-Yokado is organized as a number of individual companies, each...
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