Japan’s Seven & i says it is considering sale of superstore operations

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 1:32 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese retailer Seven & i Holdings said on Wednesday it was considering a listing of its superstore business, which is mainly comprised of supermarkets, as part of a plan to maximise corporate value.

Under pressure from activist investors, Seven & i has been selling off underperforming retail assets and doubling down on its global convenience store business centred around its flagship 7-Eleven brand.

The company said in a statement it is considering an initial public offering for its superstore segment, which includes its Ito-Yokado stores, “as soon as reasonably practical”, while its global convenience store business is likely to become its main pillar of growth.

Seven & i said its board is considering a plan to retain a stake in the superstore segment once it is separated in 2026.

Since last year, the company has announced the closure of dozens of Ito-Yokado supermarkets, exited its apparel business, and completed the sale of its Sogo & Seibu department store unit.

It has also agreed to spend more than $2 billion to scoop up convenience store assets in Australia and the United States. There are now more than 80,000 7-Eleven convenience stores around the globe.

Seven & i’s corporate predecessor first licensed the 7-Eleven franchise from U.S.-based Southland Corp in 1973. The Japanese conglomerate later took over the U.S. company in 1991.

Along with Seven Bank and other financial subsidiaries, the group’s sprawling retail empire includes Speedway petrol stations in the U.S. and Denny’s restaurants in Japan.

Seven & i last year faced down a board challenge from U.S.-based activist fund ValueAct Capital, which had urged the company to consider a spin-off of its convenience store unit.

ValueAct did not immediately respond to requests for comment on reports that Seven & i was considering a listing of its Ito-Yokado stores.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christopher Cushing)