A secret Hello Kitty museum in L.A.

The 92-year-previous founder of Good day Kitty is handing the business enterprise to his grandson

Shintaro Tsuji will retire as Sanrio chief executive on July 1, the business said in a statement Friday. Tomokuni Tsuji, 31, would just take above to “assure effective selection making,” it extra. Shintaro will continue to be as chairman.

Shintaro established Sanrio as the Yamanashi Silk Center gift store in 1960, and altered its identify to Sanrio in 1973. Sanrio was one of the 1st Japanese businesses to see probable in the character licensing business — and Hi Kitty is by considerably its most well known and financially rewarding generation.

Considering the fact that she was developed in 1974 and made her debut on a vinyl coin purse a yr later on, Hello there Kitty has appeared on everything from sneakers and paper towels to chopsticks and panini makers. The cartoon cat’s appeal was instrumental in spreading “kawaii” Japanese pop culture overseas. (The root of kawaii — “kawaisa” — translates as “cuteness” in English.) However, Sanrio has faced difficulty growing its licensing enterprise in recent years: The ratio of global royalty fees to sales dropped 11% in the 2019 fiscal year from a calendar year previously.

Sanrio, in the meantime, has grown into a retail and amusement behemoth with amusement parks and dining places in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Tomokuni Tsuji, meanwhile, presently has a special link with Hi there Kitty: They share the exact birthday, November 1. Tomokuni is 14 many years young.

Sanrio lovers are presently evaluating the new CEO to the Sanrio character Pompompurin, a beret-clad golden retriever.

A single tweeted that Tomokuni “was the best impression for Sanrio.”

Irrespective of Hi Kitty’s enduring attractiveness, earnings at Sanrio have been below force for years. For the yr ended March, internet profits plunged 95% from the preceding 12 months to 191 million yen ($1.8 million), because of largely to a drop in goods product sales and the closure of its concept parks. Profits fell 6.5%, and the Sanrio Puroland topic park in Tokyo — also recognised as Howdy Kitty Land — remains shut soon after closing in February owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The park is scheduled to reopen July 20.

Family members-run businesses in Japan normally move on the reins to their eldest sons. The founder’s son, Kunihiko, died in 2013 from coronary heart failure, according to the corporation.