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Yaohan

By | November 2012
Page 1 of 2
Yi Yuan

Kazuo Wada (和田一夫)

Yaohan was a Japanese retail group. The company was founded in 1930 by Kazuo Wada. Initially a single shop, it later expanded into a major supermarket chain after the Second World War with most retail outlets located in Shizuoka prefecture, south of Tokyo.

Kazuo Wada was born in 1929, in Atami Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. His parents owned a small grocery store named Yaohan. As the eldest son in the family, Wada took care of the business since he was 18. Three years later, when he was only 21, the vegetable store which was the economic support of his family was burned in a big fire. His house was also burned in the disaster. But he survived the fire and promoted his business even better. Wada later decided adapting cash payment instead of credit. On November 1 1955, Yaohan formally introduced the new initiatives of cash transaction and sell at a lower price, which had attracted lots of new customers.

In 1961, Wada participated a business trip and went to Los Angeles to further study management and business strategies. Once he got back to Japan, Wada proceeded to change the family owned grocery store to supermarkets. At the age of 33, Wada had officially taken over the position from his father. Wada launched a supermarket in Brazil in 1971 -- Japan's first supermarket in the country. Although business was good, high inflation attributable to the oil shock forced the closure of all the chain stores in Brazil in 1976. During the 1990s, the Yaohan group expanded dramatically outside Japan, especially into the People’s Republic of China, California, and Hawaii. At its peak, it had 450 outlets in 16 countries.

By the time it opened its first store in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the company was already in a state of decline due to accumulated debts from over-expansion. When the company faced financial difficulties, it was split into two companies, one in Japan and with the overseas part headquartered in Hong Kong. Through a...
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