Japanese billionaire Masatoshi Ito has been announced dead at the age of 98.

Ito turned 7-Eleven convenience stores into a global empire, closing the chapter on one of Asia’s most storied retail entrepreneurs.

Operator of 7-Eleven, Seven & I Holdings, announced his death in a statement on Monday.

“We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your kindness and friendship during his life and respectfully inform you of his passing,” the company said.

Ito transformed everyday retail in Japan, turning a US-born company into an international brand, particularly in Asia where 7-Eleven shops are rarely more than a few minutes’ walk away in many cities.

Seven & I Holdings now has over 83,000 stores around the world, including 7-Eleven shops in 19 regions and countries.

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