The founder of the firm behind Hello Kitty is stepping down aged 92 and handing the reins to his 31-year-old grandson — the first change in leadership in the company’s six-decade history.
Tokyo-based Sanrio, which created the ubiquitous pink-bowed character in 1974, announced on Friday that Shintaro Tsuji would retire as president and pass the torch to Tomokuni, who had been senior managing director.
Coincidentally, the new boss shares his birthday with Hello Kitty — November 1 — but is 14 years younger. He will become the youngest CEO of a firm listed on Tokyo’s Topix index.
Shintaro’s son Kunihiko died of heart failure in 2013.
According to the firm’s official history, Shintaro Tsuji created the forerunner to Sanrio, called Yamanashi Silk Center Co Ltd, in 1960 in Tokyo.
It changed its name in 1973 to Sanrio and created its first character goods a year later, using Hello Kitty and the duo Jimmy and Patty.