The Japanese have Toshifumi Suzuki to thank for snack food at all hours. Suzuki, 67, is chairman and CEO of Seven-Eleven Japan and the father of the Japanese convenience store. A country boy from Nagano, Suzuki worked in publishing before joining retailer Ito-Yokado Co., where he led the fight to win a Seven-Eleven franchise in Japan from its U.S. parent. Suzuki helped open the first store in 1974, led the drive to computerize operations, and pushed his way to the top of the chain and of Ito-Yokado itself.
Not content with 10 million customers per day, Suzuki keeps looking for ways to attract more. The latest: pushing into cyberspace. Seven-Eleven is installing Internet kiosks and depot centers in its 8,000 stores so that millions more customers will come in to pick up goods they order on the Net. Suzuki's goal isn't to make money on pickups but to snare extra foot traffic to boost sales. Suzuki will never stop redefining the corner store.