Seven & i starts work to pick buyer of dept. store unit

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The flagship Seibu Ikebukuro store is seen in Toshima Ward, Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Retail giant Seven & i Holdings Co. started work on choosing a buyer of its department store unit, Sogo & Seibu Co., on Monday, the final day of primary bid submission.

Potential buyers may include investment funds, real estate companies and railway operators.

Based on proposals from potential purchasers, Seven & i will consider the proportion of Sogo & Seibu shares to be sold and the possibility of splitting the unit, sources familiar with the matter said.

Seven & i aims to come up with a definite conclusion by this spring.

Sogo & Seibu runs 10 department stores across the country, with establishments such as the flagship Seibu Ikebukuro store in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward viewed as having high real estate value.

Seven & i may sell the unit by combining proposals from buyers who wish to acquire only some of its stores.

The company aims to carry out selection procedures swiftly while considering the possible impact of the sale on the employment of Sogo & Seibu workers and local industries.

Sogo & Seibu is expected to be removed from the group’s consolidated accounting.

In 2006, Seven & i acquired Millennium Retailing Inc., the then operator of the Sogo and Seibu department store chains, and changed the company’s name to Sogo & Seibu in 2009.

The acquisition, however, failed to bring as strong synergies as expected to the Seven & i group. The coronavirus pandemic dealt an additional blow to the unit as Sogo & Seibu incurred a net loss of ¥17.2 billion in the year through February 2021.