The man behind the 7-Eleven empire has passed away

Meet Masatoshi Ito, the mastermind behind 7-Eleven's global empire.

The man behind the 7-Eleven empire has passed away
Source: Wikimedia Commons/Dinkun Chen

The backstory: Meet Masatoshi Ito, the mastermind behind 7-Eleven's global empire. This Japanese billionaire took the convenience store game to the next level, expanding it into a global reign that offers everything from snacks to medicine. He was one smart cookie, making strategic acquisitions and growing the company from the 70s to the 90s.

More recently: In 1956, he grabbed a small clothing store in Tokyo and turned it into Ito-Yokado, a mega-chain with everything from clothes to chow. Fast-forward to 1972, and it hit the big leagues with an IPO.

But that's not all. He also teamed up with Southland Corporation, which owned 7-Eleven, to open Japan's debut 7-Eleven in 1974. In 1990, he even snagged a controlling share of Southland Corporation.

The development: Ito passed away at the age of 98 last week, but his legacy lives on through more than 83,000 7-Eleven stores scattered around the world in a whopping 19 different countries and regions.

Ito wasn't just some run-of-the-mill businessman. He was known for his incredible skills and even had a famous friend in the world-renowned management consultant Peter Drucker. In fact, Drucker once called Ito "one of the world's outstanding entrepreneurs and business builders."

Key comments:

"We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your kindness and friendship during his life and respectfully inform you of his passing," said Seven & I Holdings, operator of 7-Eleven.  

"I became particularly conscious of the sheer size of America's consumer society and the distribution techniques that made it all possible," said Masatoshi Ito in an interview with The Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry in 1988. "It then occurred to me that people in different cultures still have basically the same desires, assuming that they are at the same of development, and I thought that Japan's distribution system would become more like America's as the Japanese consumer society grew bigger."

"In the early years of his relationship with Dr Drucker, the two would connect in America or Japan and spend long evenings discussing the world economy, the Japanese economy, and the direction in which Mr Ito should be planning," said the Drucker School of Management.