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Source: The Seiyu

TOKYO - Global investment firm KKR will increase its majority stake in Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu from 65% to 85% after buying shares from e-commerce giant Rakuten.

The move strengthens KKR's position in Seiyu while maintaining Rakuten's strategic partnership with the supermarket chain.

Since KKR and Rakuten's initial investment in Seiyu in 2021, the partners have worked with Walmart, Seiyu's third shareholder, to support the supermarket's growth.

By improving product quality, user experience, store operations, and store renovations, Seiyu has delivered its customers more excellent value and convenience.

The partnership has enabled Seiyu to offer cashless payment options in its stores, including Rakuten Pay and Rakuten Edy.

It has also leveraged KKR's operational expertise to optimize store operations and processes and enhance online-merge-with-offline (OMO) initiatives.

"Seiyu aims to become Japan's No. 1 supermarket and online supermarket by 2025, building on the new management structure introduced in 2021," said Tsuneo Okubo, president and representative director of Seiyu Holdings Co. and Seiyu Co., Ltd.

He noted that the company's operating income in FY22 increased 50% year on year, signaling the progress of its business transformation program.

Hiro Hirano, Co-Head of Private Equity for KKR Asia Pacific and CEO of KKR Japan, expressed his optimism about the company's potential. "We look forward to unlocking the company's full potential through a continued strategic partnership with Rakuten and Walmart," Hirano said.

Meanwhile, Rakuten pledged to continue working with Seiyu to bring more convenience to customers.

"With KKR's strong support and retail expertise, our collaboration with Seiyu has been extremely fruitful, with strong growth in the popular Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper online grocery delivery service," said Kazunori Takeda, director, and group executive vice president of Rakuten.

This transaction, funded by KKR's Asian Fund IV, demonstrates the investment firm's confidence in Seiyu's growth trajectory and marks an essential step in the evolving relationship between KKR, Rakuten, and Seiyu.

In addition, the investment will strengthen Seiyu's position in the Japanese retail market and enable it to deliver customers a more seamless, personalized retail experience.