The 92-year-old founder of Hello Kitty is handing the business to his grandson

Shintaro Tsuji will retire as Sanrio chief government on July 1, the corporate mentioned in a press release Friday. Tomokuni Tsuji, 31, would take over to “guarantee environment friendly resolution making,” it added. Shintaro will stay as chairman.

Shintaro based Sanrio because the Yamanashi Silk Middle present store in 1960, and altered its title to Sanrio in 1973. Sanrio was one of many first Japanese corporations to see potential within the character licensing enterprise — and Hi there Kitty is by far its hottest and worthwhile creation.

Since she was created in 1974 and made her debut on a vinyl coin purse a 12 months later, Hi there Kitty has appeared on every thing from sneakers and paper towels to chopsticks and panini makers. The cartoon cat-like determine’s enchantment was instrumental in spreading “kawaii” Japanese popular culture abroad. (The foundation of kawaii — “kawaisa” — translates as “cuteness” in English.) Nevertheless, Sanrio has confronted bother rising its licensing enterprise lately: The ratio of world royalty charges to gross sales dropped 11% within the 2019 fiscal 12 months from a 12 months earlier.

Sanrio, in the meantime, has grown right into a retail and leisure behemoth with amusement parks and eating places in Japan, america and the UK.

Tomokuni Tsuji, in the meantime, already has a particular reference to Hi there Kitty: They share the identical birthday, November 1. Tomokuni is 14 years youthful.

Sanrio president Shintaro Tsuji is handing the company over to his grandson, Tomokuni Tsuji.

Sanrio followers are already evaluating the brand new CEO to the Sanrio character Pompompurin, a beret-clad golden retriever.

One tweeted that Tomokuni “was the proper picture for Sanrio.”

Regardless of Hi there Kitty’s enduring recognition, earnings at Sanrio have been underneath stress for years. For the 12 months ended March, web income plunged 95% from the earlier 12 months to 191 million yen ($1.eight million), due largely to a drop in merchandise gross sales and the closure of its theme parks. Gross sales fell 6.5%, and the Sanrio Puroland theme park in Tokyo — often known as Hi there Kitty Land — stays shut after closing in February because of the coronavirus pandemic. The park is scheduled to reopen July 20.

Household-run companies in Japan typically go on the reins to their eldest sons. The founder’s son, Kunihiko, died in 2013 from coronary heart failure, based on the corporate.

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