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Founder of Daiso, Japan's dollar-store chain, dies; he was 80

Hirotake Yano, who founded the retail chain Daiso known for 100-yen shops, Japan’s equivalent of the dollar store, has died

Yuri Kageyama
Tuesday 20 February 2024 09:28 GMT

Hirotake Yano, who founded the retail chain Daiso known for 100-yen shops, Japan’s equivalent of the dollar store, has died. He was 80.

Yano died Feb. 12 of heart failure, Daiso Industries Co. said in a statement Monday.

Yano founded his business as Yano Shoten in 1972, changing the name to Daiso in 1977. The discount retailer began working with 100 yen stories in the 1980s and opened the first one under the Daiso name in 1991. Daiso now runs more than 5,000 shops in 26 nations and regions, raking in more than 580 billion yen ($4 billion) in sales over the latest fiscal year.

One hundred yen is equivalent to about 67 American cents at current exchange rates.

The stores carry some 76,000 products, ranging from stationery items and kitchen sponges to stuffed animals and hair care, as well as nuts and dried fruit and cosmetics, according to Daiso.

Yano, a graduate of Chuo University was both hailed and criticized as “the 100-yen man,” a reflection of Japan’s deflationary woes. But the model of selling just about everything at one price became a hit.

He argued the concept would spur consumer spending, make shopping fun, and contribute to Japan’s economic growth.

Following nationwide expansion in Japan, the first Daiso abroad opened in Taiwan in 2001. A Daiso opened in South Korea later that same year.

The first Daiso in the U.S. opened in 2005, in Seattle. Now, there are Daiso shops in Hawaii and New York. Its global expansion has reached Brazil, the UAE and Australia.

Yano was said to be prone to self-deprecating jokes.

“I like to tell people it’s fortunate to have bad luck. If you are too lucky, you tend to start losing your strengths,” he told Diamond, a Japanese magazine.

“You work harder if you see yourself as a person without luck or talent. That’s who I am," he said.

Yano stepped down as president of Daiso in 2018, and as chairman a year later.

A private funeral has been held for family. A commemorative event is in the works, but details were still undecided, said Daiso, based in the southwestern city of Hiroshima.

“We deeply appreciate all your kindness to him,” it said.


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