Hello Kitty’s 92-year-old founder delivers the job to his grandson

Hello Kitty's 92-year-old founder delivers the job to his grandson

The company said on Friday that Shintaro Tsuji will retire as CEO of Sanrio on July 1. Tomokuni Tsuji, 31, added that he would take on the task of “ensuring effective decision making”. Shintaro will remain as president.

Shintaro founded Sanrio as a gift shop in Yamanashi Silk Center in 1960 and changed its name to Sanrio in 1973. Sanrio was one of the first Japanese companies to see potential in the character licensing business, and Hello Kitty is by far the most popular and profitable creation.

Since its founding in 1974 and making its debut vinyl coin purse A year later, Hello Kitty appeared on everything from sneakers and paper towels to chopsticks and panini manufacturers. The appeal of the cartoon cat-like figure has been effective in spreading “kawaii” Japanese pop culture overseas. (Kawaii’s root – “kawaisa” – Translates to “cuteness” in English.) However, Sanrio has been struggling to grow its licensing business in recent years: the ratio of global royalty fees to sales decreased by 11% in fiscal year 2019 compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, Sanrio has become a retail and entertainment giant with its amusement parks and restaurants in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

By the way, Tomokuni Tsuji already has a special connection with Hello Kitty: They share the same birthday, November 1. Tomokuni is 14 years old.

Sanrio fans are already comparing the new CEO with the Sanrio character Pompompurin, a beret-covered golden hunting dog.

Someone tweeted Tomokuni “is the perfect image for Sanrio”.

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Despite Hello Kitty’s persistent popularity, gains in Sanrio have been under pressure for years. For the year ended in March, net profits fell by 95% from the previous year to 191 million yen ($ 1.8 million), largely due to the decline in sales of goods and the closure of theme parks. Sales fell 6.5% and the Sanrio Puroland theme park, also known as the Hello Kitty Land in Tokyo, remained closed after being closed in February due to a coronavirus pandemic. The park is planned to be reopened on July 20.

Family-run businesses in Japan often pass reins to their eldest son. According to the company, Kunihiko, the founder’s son, died in 2013 of heart failure.

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About the Author: Abbott Hopkins

Analyst. Amateur problem solver. Wannabe internet expert. Coffee geek. Tv guru. Award-winning communicator. Food nerd.

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