Shintaro Suzi will step down as chief executive of Sanrio on July 1, the company said in a statement on Friday. Tomokuni Suzi, 31, is responsible for “effective decision making.” Shintaro will continue as chairman.
Shintaro Sanrio was founded in 1960 as a gift shop by the Yamanashi Silk Center and in 1973 changed its name to Sanrio. Sanrio was one of the first Japanese companies to see the potential in the character licensing business – and Hello Kitty is by far its most popular and profitable creation.
At the same time, Sanrio has grown into a retail and entertainment behemoth with amusement parks and restaurants in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Tomokuni already has a special relationship with Suzuki and Hello Kitty: they share the same birthday, November 1st. Tomokuni is 14 years younger.
Sanrio fans have already compared the new CEO to the golden retriever wearing the Sanrio character Pompomurin and Beret.
Someone tweeted that Tomokuni was “the perfect image for Sanrio.”
Despite Hello Kitty’s continued popularity, revenues at Sanrio have been under pressure for years. For the year ended March, net profits fell 95% from the previous year to 191 million yen (8 1.8 million), largely due to a reduction in commodity sales and the closure of its theme parks. Sales fell 6.5% and the Sanrio Puroland theme park in Tokyo – also known as Hello Kitty Land – closed after being shut down in February due to the coronavirus pandemic. The park will reopen on July 20.
Family-run businesses in Japan often retire to their eldest sons. The founder’s son, Kunihiko, died of heart failure in 2013, the company said.