Last update: June 26, 2023
I have become keenly aware through putting into practice crisis management that the attitude of us as humans to only see the reality we want to see instead of looking at all which is real – in other words, wishful thinking – is a cause of the worst results. The same is true for business expansion. I have actively engaged in discussions with management from that perspective. The symbol of that is the update to our Medium-Term Management Plan which now outlines a food-centered growth strategy. We discussed past failures and problems while looking straight at the harsh reality and future projections we did not want to see. The business environment including the international and social situation will continue to change in the future. However, I will grasp the signs of change by gathering information to thoroughly discuss imagination and preparation for the future. That will allow us to avoid being obsessed by superficial changes and falling into situationism preoccupied only with responding to the situation at present.
The Group's stakeholders are customers, business partners, shareholders, local communities, and employees. Convenience stores are integral to not only regional but also national infrastructure, and the social role that convenience stores fulfill in, for example, keeping streets safe and helping out in times of disaster in addition to providing food, has grown enormously. I want to see employees execute business activities matched to the expectations of stakeholders, proud of the vital social mission they play. In addition, to sincerely respond to all stakeholders, Seven & i Holdings must be a company that seeks maximum corporate value not only based on short-term targets but also medium- and long-term targets. For myself, I will help push corporate value to the maximum level while taking advantage of various inputs, particularly content that is hard to grasp from an executive position and content for which I do not have the necessary experience to form a personal opinion.
Japan, today, is in the midst of great change—an unavoidable progression of issues, including instability on the global stage and the unrelenting spread of COVID-19 as well as a falling birthrate, aging society, and declining population. Against this backdrop, can Seven & i Holdings—being headquartered in Japan, which may be a developed country but still grapples with challenges—address these changes in society and maintain a presence supported by many people? I see this time as a crucial phase in the Company’s history. Seven & i Holdings states in its Corporate Creed, which dates back to its earliest days, that it will be a sincere company, earning the trust of diverse stakeholder groups. I believe this is the starting point of all discussions, and the mission of the Group is ultimately to provide services that support the happiness and well-being of as many consumers as possible. I, too, have the perspective of a consumer, but I will also actively participate in discussions from the more objective position of an Outside Director, and work hard to fulfill my role in pursuing the interests of all stakeholders.
As a newer member of the Board of Directors, I have contributed to strategy assessments by actively expressing my views in board and the Strategy Committee by utilizing my legal and international financial services experience. Seven & i Group’s business environment is becoming increasingly challenging due to changes in consumer behavior, food security problems, and rising energy and commodity prices. However, it is precisely at times like these, when there is a need for active discussions with outside directors who have unique perspectives. In particular, I believe we need to further deepen discussions regarding the main driver of our growth strategy which is the convenience store business, considering how we should invest and in which region, and what is the best way to expand our franchises in relation to global expansion which takes advantage of our high degree of 7-Eleven brand recognition in Japan and the United States. We also need to engage in a related risk assessment with respect to future earnings forecasts.
My impression of the Group was of a company involved in business which contributes to local communities in Japan and overseas. I was, therefore, surprised to find it had globalized beyond what I had imagined. On the other hand, I feel there are also many issues in the digital domain such as system linkage. It is said that, in addition to the economic zone of the previous physical space, the economic zone in the virtual space will drastically change the retail industry through DX and the Web 3.0. I want us to take this reality seriously. I hope to encourage system linkage in fragmented business entities. In addition, a customer base rooted in the local community is an important factor in value creation for the retail industry in the real world. Therefore, I would like us to take on the challenge of creating business which takes into account the issues facing diversifying local communities.
I have been involved in Japanese food companies' global expansion for many years. The Group has been my business partner in several different contexts in the past. I experienced a shared corporate culture of sincerity, as stated in the corporate creed, which I believe has been the core strength of the company, supporting the past growth in sustainable way. In recent years, the Group has been rapidly enhancing its global presence, and expectations are rising for further globalization.
To meet these expectations, it has become important to enhance the company's value by further scaling up its unique strength in the food sector, rooted in its corporate culture, and fulfilling our social responsibilities, including sustainability. As an external director, I will leverage my past experiences and contribute from an objective standpoint to achieving these goals.
It will be almost one year since I assumed the role as an independent board member of the Company. With the support of management, our Board has launched a strategy committee focused on driving organizational transformation and an assessment of the Company's current business portfolio. I am satisfied and confident that the Board and management have an effective working process in place and will, thereafter, institute changes that will be meaningful for its shareholders, company employees and customers. I hope that my skill sets will make a meaningful contribution to the the Group.
All the outside directors bring their own unique experience and knowledge to the board.
My experience includes working as a teenager in my father’s 7-11, leading retail organizations in Japan, North America and Europe, and competing directly with the Group. I will leverage this experience along with that of our other outside directors in my role as Chair of the Strategy Committee. Our role is to monitor the progress of our key strategic initiatives and carry out an objective and holistic analysis of various strategic options to enhance long-term enterprise and shareholder value. We will be looking at corporate structure, our DX evolution, accelerating the growth and profitability of our overseas convenience store business, and monitoring the progress of our superstore’s transformation. I am confident that this team will be able to objectively evaluate all strategic options and contribute to the long-term growth of the 7&i Group.
Over the last year, I have been honored and delighted to serve on the Board of Directors. We have engaged in active dialogue to challenge our assumptions and strengthen our conviction in the food business and in particular, in our global convenience store strategy. In addition to the qualitative assessment, I have emphasized a quantitative and objective focus on the value derived from the various parts of our business. I believe that a continued commitment to our digital customer experience is necessary – particularly as we invest in technology, our food offerings, and how we can redefine convenience and the changing consumer need. One key element will be affordability, especially as we navigate a heavy inflationary environment. Overall, critical to our desired global leadership will be in how we attract, retain, and grow our global talent base. We need to continue to surprise and delight our customers as well as our employees and become the global leaders in the convenience store industry.