Tadashi Yanai is the richest person in Japan. Here's how the founder of Uniqlo built and spends his $32 billion fortune.
Summary List Placement Tadashi Yanai is the richest person in Japan. The 71-year-old Japanese businessman is worth an estimated $31.9 billion, according to Bloomberg. His fortune comes from his position as chairman, CEO, and the biggest shareholder of Fast Retailing, the largest clothing retailer in Asia and the parent company of Uniqlo. Yanai opened the first Uniqlo store in 1984 and has expanded the brand to more than 2,000 stores in at least 20 countries. Along with his success in the fashion industry, Yanai was also an influential member on the board of the Japanese holding company SoftBank for 18 years. As Business Insider's Isobel Asher Hamilton previously reported, Yanai had a reputation for being one of the few people with as much influence as SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. But Yanai stepped down from the board at the end of 2019 to focus on his fashion business. The Japanese billionaire lives in a $50 million house in the woods outside of Tokyo and owns another home in a ritzy, exclusive neighborhood in the city. He also owns two golf courses in Hawaii, where he spends a few weeks each summer, according to Bloomberg. Here's a look at the life of Japan's richest person.SEE ALSO: Meet Amancio Ortega, the fiercely private Zara founder who's worth $62 billion and owns properties in Madrid, London, and New York City DON'T MISS: Bernard Arnault is the world's third-richest person and CEO of LVMH, which just finalized a deal to buy Tiffany. Here's how the French billionaire makes and spends his $100 billion fortune. Meet Tadashi Yanai, the richest person in Japan. He's worth an estimated $31.9 billion.
The Japanese businessman's wealth comes from his position as chairman, CEO, and the largest shareholder of Fast Retailing, the largest clothing retailer in Asia. The 70-year-old billionaire holds a 45% stake in the company. Yanai is more than $6 billion richer than the second-richest person in Japan, Takemitsu Takizaki, according to Bloomberg. Fast Retailing is the parent company of Uniqlo and other brands including Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, and J Brand.
Fast Retailing has thousands of stores worldwide and reported annual revenue of about $20.8 billion in August 2019. Yanai was an influential member on the board of the Japanese holding company SoftBank for 18 years.
As Business Insider's Isobel Asher Hamilton previously reported, Yanai had a reputation for being one of the few people with as much influence as SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. But in December 2019, SoftBank announced that Yanai will be resigning from the board at the end of the year to focus on his fashion business. Yanai was born in southern Japan in 1949, the son of a clothing seller.
Yanai's father owned a men's clothing shop called Men's Shop Ogori Shoji. The store was on the first floor and the family lived above it. By the 1970s, the business had several locations. After graduating from college in 1971, Yanai started selling men's clothing and kitchenware at a Jusco supermarket, but he quit after one year and started working for his father.
Yanai graduated from Waseda University with a degree in economics and politics. Yanai said he didn't start out being very motivated to work.
"My preference was not to work my entire life, that's how I was," he told ABS-CBN. "My father demanded that I need to find work at Jusco. So regretfully I got a job." He said he joined his father's business because he had nowhere else to go, but he actually ended up finding it fun. In 1984 in Hiroshima, Yanai founded Unique Clothing Warehouse, which would later be shortened to Uniqlo.
A few years later, he changed the name of his father's clothing company to Fast Retailing. The company grew quickly over the next several years. By 1996, Yanai had more than 200 stores across Japan.
Uniqlo's $15 fleece jacket was the brand's most popular product, with an estimated one in four Japanese people having bought one by 1998. The Japanese billionaire, who is married with two children, lives in a 16,586-square-foot house in the woodlands outside of Tokyo.
The property, which includes a guard house, a driving range, and a separate thatched-roof teahouse, was estimated to be worth about $50 million in 2017. Yanai bought the land in an auction for $78 million in 2001. Yanai also has a home – worth an estimated $74 million — in the ritzy Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo.
Shibuya is an exclusive Tokyo neighborhood that government officials and CEOs call home, according to the Japan Times. Living there is "a symbol of status," Yukiko Takano of Sotheby's told the Times in 2014. The billionaire is reportedly an avid golf player. He spends three weeks every summer playing in Hawaii, where he owns two golf courses that he bought for a combined $74.1 million.
Yanai bought the Plantation Golf Course in Hawaii from Maui Land & Pineapple for $50 million in 2009, according to Bloomberg. In 2010, he bought another course, Kapalua Bay, for $24.1 million. Yanai likes to start work at 7 a.m. and be home by 4 p.m. in order to play some golf and spend time with his wife, the Financial Times reported in 2013.
His company has adapted its entire schedule to the chairman's early hours, according to the Times. Between 2013 and 2018, the expansion of Yanai's company meant that his net worth grew from $15.5 billion to $24 billion in just five years.
Fast Retailing is now the third-largest global clothing retailer, after H&M and Inditex, the parent company of Zara, according to MoneyWeek. Today, Fast Retailing operates more than 2,100 Uniqlo stores in at least 24 countries — and that's not counting the group's other brands.
Uniqlo — Fast Retailing's most successful brand — has more than 1,900 stores globally, with 810 in Japan. Only 50 of those are in the US, and the vast majority are scattered throughout Asian countries that include Japan, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Uniqlo is known for its relatively affordable, timeless basics. "Uniqlo isn't in the business of chasing trends," Gillian B. White wrote in The Atlantic.
"[Uniqlo's] staples—versatile black pants, reliable oxfords, crisp cotton socks — are available month after month, year after year," White wrote. Yanai himself told Vault Magazine in 2011 said Uniqlo's clothes are "geared to all types of people: whether they are billionaires, the middle class, the lower end. We need to cater to all, just like Marks and Spencer or Gap or the current H&M and Zara. Unless we cater to all segments of life and segments of people, we cannot be successful." Yanai has made it clear he wants Fast Retailing to be the world's largest clothing retailer.
Yanai has always named H&M and Zara as Fast Retailing's biggest rivals. He told Forbes Asia in 2017 that his goal is to have the company's revenue up to $29 billion by 2020. "Information and digital innovation will determine the winner," Yanai said. "And that's the area we are in." Uniqlo opened its first stores in Denmark, Italy, India, and Vietnam in 2019. Uniqlo has pioneered the use of artificial intelligence in its stores to improve customers' shopping experience.
"Select stores have AI-powered UMood kiosks that show customers a variety of products and measures their reaction to the color and style through neurotransmitters," Blake Morgan wrote in Forbes. "Based on each person's reactions, the kiosk then recommends products. Customers don't even have to push a button; their brain signals are enough for the system to know how they feel about each item." And in 2018 Uniqlo launched GU Style Studio stores, fitting-only stores where customers can try on clothing and place orders online for later delivery, according to the Japan Times. Yanai's two sons are both on Fast Retailing's board of directors.
"This means that corporate governance will function even when I'm absent," Yanai said when he announced their promotions in October 2018. "It does not mean that they will take charge of the company." Yanai's sons, Kazumi Yanai and Koji Yanai, were both senior vice presidents at Fast Retailing before being promoted to the board, according to Nikkei Asian Review. In 2017, Yanai told the Nikkei Asian Review that he would step down as president of Fast Retailing when he turned 70, but stay on as chairman.
Yanai turned 71 in February 2020 and so far has made no official announcement about leaving his role as president or about who will take his place, although he did recently tell Bloomberg Japan that his CEO role is "more suitable for a woman" because women "are persevering, detail-oriented and have an aesthetic sense." Uniqlo Japan's female CEO, Maki Akaida, has been tapped as a potential successor to Yanai, Forbes recently reported. During the coronavirus pandemic, Fast Retailing said it's seen a sharp drop in revenue — but sales have started to recover in some of its key markets.
In July, Fast Retailing predicted that its operating profit would be 50% lower and sales would be 13% lower from the year before due to the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. The company's CFO, Takeshi Okaza, told reporters at the time that the group had seen "a large decline in both revenue and profit across the business." But the company also said that sales were already recovering faster than expected in Japan and China, two of its most important markets.
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Summary List Placement Fashion is a $2.5 trillion global industry that has made its leading players,...Summary List Placement Fashion is a $2.5 trillion global industry that has made its leading players, from designers and CEOs to founders and heiresses, very rich. Business Insider has compiled a list of the richest people in the fashion industry, based on Forbes' Real Time Billionaires ranking and Bloomberg Billionaires Index — and the top 15 are worth a combined $410.8 billion. The wealthiest person in fashion is Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, the world's largest maker of luxury goods that's behind brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dom Perignon, Christian Dior, and as of November 2019, Tiffany & Co. Others on the list include Giorgio Armani, the founder of Nike, the Japanese billionaire behind Uniqlo, and the Spanish retail mogul who owns Zara. Read on for the 15 richest people in the fashion industry, ranked in ascending order. Bobbie Edsor contributed to an earlier version of this story.SEE ALSO: Bernard Arnault is the world's third-richest person and CEO of LVMH, which just finalized a deal to buy Tiffany. Here's how the French billionaire makes and spends his $100 billion fortune. NOW READ: The 9 most valuable luxury brands in the world 15. Chip Wilson: $6.1 billion Chip Wilson founded Lululemon Athletica, a sportswear company. Between February 2019 and February 2020, Lululemon made $4 billion. Wilson stepped down from the board in 2015 after selling half of his stakes in the company to Advent International, a private equity firm, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. 14. Ding Shijia: $6.19 billion Ding Shijia serves as deputy chaiman of the Fujian-based athletic retail manufacturer Anta Sports Products. Including the brands Anta, Fila, Amer Sports and Descente, the company made $3.6 billion in 2018, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 13. Giorgio Armani: $6.27 billion The cofounder and sole owner of the Armani empire, Giorgio Armani's luxury fashion house has ventures in haute couture, sportswear, beauty, restaurants, interior design, hotels and resorts, and ready-to-wear fashion, among others. The Italian-born fashion designer founded his company in 1975 after leaving medical school early. Now, Armani is often dubbed one of the most successful Italian fashion designers in history, with revenue of $2.3 billion in 2018, according to Bloomberg. Armani owns a 213-foot jet-black superyacht and has homes in Italy and the Caribbean. 12. Ding Shizhong: $6.34 billion Ding Shizhong is the chairman and CEO of Anta Sports, one of China's largest sportswear makers. Anta Sports, which owns brands including Fila, Descente, and Kingkow, made more than $3.4 billion in revenue in 2018, per Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 11. Anders Holch Povlsen: $6.8 billion Anders Holch Povlsen is the CEO and sole owner of Danish fashion retailer Bestseller. Povlsen's parents started the company in 1975 and he was only 28 when his father, Troels Holch Povlsen, made him the sole owner of the company in 1990. Bestseller is the parent company of 11 fashion labels that include Vero Moda, Only, and Jack & Jones. Povlsen, who is the second-richest person in Denmark, also has "significant stakes" in online clothing retailer ASOS and payments company Klarna, according to Forbes. In April 2019, three of Povlsen's four children were killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that left at least 290 people dead. 10. Sandra Ortega Mera: $6.91 billion Sandra Ortega Mera is the daughter of Zara founder Amancio Ortega with his late ex-wife, Rosalia Mera. Sandra inherited the title of Spain's richest woman after her mother's death. While she isn't involved with the company, Sandra holds a roughly 4.5% stake in her father's business, Inditex, according to Forbes. 9. Heinrich Deichmann: $7.12 billion Heinrich Deichmann is the CEO of international shoe manufacturer Deichmann, founded by his grandfather as a cobbler's shop in Germany in 1913. Deichmann's reputation for creating affordable footwear is ingrained in its history. The family company organized a second-hand shoe exchange scheme in order to help struggling customers after the war, according to the company's website. Today, Deichmann has grown to become Europe's largest shoe retailer, with more than 4,200 stores in Germany, the US, and throughout Europe. 8. Stefan Persson: $16.6 billion Former chairman of best-selling fashion retailer H&M, Stefan Persson owns a 36% stake in the company. Persson stepped down as chairman in May 2020 and his son, Karl-Johan, took over the role. H&M Group, which also owns brands like Weekday, COS, and Monki, brought in more than $22 billion in net sales in 2018, according to the company's annual report. The Swedish fast-fashion business has about 4,900 stores in 73 markets. 7. Leonardo Del Vecchio: $20.9 billion Leonardo Del Vecchio is the founder of eyewear giant Luxottica, which went on to acquire Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban, and Oakley and make glasses for brands including Chanel and Bulgari, according to Forbes. Luxottica merged with French lens maker Essilor in 2018 to become the world's largest producer and retailer of sunglasses and prescription glasses. 6. Tadashi Yanai: $31.9 billion Tadashi Yanai is the founder and owner of Japanese clothing empire Fast Retailing, the largest clothing retailer in Asia and the parent company of Uniqlo. Yanai, the richest person in Japan, began his career at his father's roadside tailor shop in suburban Japan, according to Bloomberg. Yanai later changed the name of the company to Fast Retailing in the early 1990s in order to reflect his fast-fashion business strategy. Yanai opened the first Uniqlo store in 1984 and has expanded the brand to more than 2,000 stores in at least 20 countries. Fast Retailing has thousands of stores worldwide and reported yearly revenue of $20.8 billion in August 2019, per Bloomberg. 5. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer: $32.3 billion Alain Wertheimer co-owns the French fashion house Chanel with his brother, Gerard. Alain serves as Chanel's chairman while Gerard manages the company's watch department in Switzerland. The Wertheimer brothers inherited the Chanel empire from their grandfather, Pierre Wertheimer, who founded the brand with Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel in 1913. They each have a net worth of $32.3 billion. The Wertheimers are known as "fashion's quietest billionaires," according to The New York Times. ''We're a very discreet family, we never talk,'' Gérard Wertheimer told The New York Times Magazine in 2002.''It's about Coco Chanel. It's about Karl [Lagerfeld]. It's about everyone who works and creates at Chanel. It's not about the Wertheimers." 4. Phil Knight: $40.4 billion Phil Knight is the founder of shoe giant Nike. Knight, a former track runner, started the company that would become Nike with his college track coach, Bill Bowerman, in 1964. Knight retired as chairman of Nike in 2016 after 52 years, according to Forbes. 3. Francois Pinault: $42.6 billion François Pinault is the founder and owner of Kering luxury group, which includes iconic fashion houses such as Gucci and Alexander McQueen. He's been married to Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek since 2009. The French businessman and art collector also owns a plethora of auction houses, wineries, and French publications. He's the third-richest person in France after Bernard Arnault and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. 2. Amancio Ortega: $59.6 billion Amancio Ortega made his $60 billion fortune through the Spanish fashion retail group Inditex, which he founded with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera in 1975. Ortega owns 59% of Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer that owns Zara, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, and other brands, per Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 1. Bernard Arnault: $88 billion Bernard Arnault is the chairman and CEO of LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods company. The French billionaire is the third-richest person in the world, trailing only Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. LVMH is the parent company of 75 household names, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Sephora, and Bulgari, and, as of November 2019, jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. Arnault is growing richer at a faster rate than many other billionaires. Since the beginning of 2019, his fortune has fallen by $17.2 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Meet Masayoshi Son, the Japanese billionaire with a $14 billion personal fortune whose SoftBank mega-fund lost more than $4.7 billion investing in WeWork
Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder and CEO of Japanese holding company SoftBank, is worth an estimated...Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder and CEO of Japanese holding company SoftBank, is worth an estimated $14.1 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate that invested almost $11 billion into WeWork, lost more than $4.7 billion after the coworking company's failed IPO, The Wall Street Journal reported. Son is the third-richest person in Japan after Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai and Keyence founder Takemitsu Takizaki. Through SoftBank and his first $100 billion Vision Fund, Son has invested millions in some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies, including Uber, WeWork, Slack, and DoorDash. He owns $45 million worth of real estate in Tokyo as well as a $117.5 million estate in Silicon Valley. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Japanese holding company SoftBank, the biggest investor in WeWork, lost more than $4.7 billion after the coworking company's failed IPO, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company announced last month it would take control of the coworking company in a deal that will give former CEO Adam Neumann almost $1.7 billion. Softbank had poured almost $11 billion into WeWork, Business Insider previously reported. It was set to invest an additional billion dollars into WeWork's IPO before the IPO was postponed on September 17. SoftBank's founder and CEO is Masayoshi Son, who's worth an estimated $14.1 billion, per Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. That makes him the third-richest person in Japan after Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai and Keyence founder Takemitsu Takizaki. Through SoftBank and his first $100 billion Vision Fund, Son has invested millions in some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies, including Uber, Slack, and DoorDash. Here's a look at Son's life, career, investments, and real-estate portfolio.SEE ALSO: All the details of SoftBank's WeWork takeover: SoftBank to own 80% of WeWork, Neumann steps down, and SoftBank invests billions. The new chairman will address employees on Wednesday. DON'T MISS: WeWork is back to having an all-male board of directors — here's who is still leading the office-sharing company Masayoshi Son is the billionaire founder and CEO of Japanese holding company SoftBank, which announced commitments of $108 billion to its second massive Vision Fund in July 2019. SoftBank owns stakes in more than 1,000 companies, including Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, according to Bloomberg. In 2018, the company reported revenue of $82.7 billion. Son is worth an estimated $14.1 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. That makes him the third-richest person in Japan after Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai, who's worth an estimated $32.5 billion, and Keyence founder Takemitsu Takizaki, who's worth $18.2 billion. Most of Son's wealth comes from his 26% stake in Softbank, which makes him the largest shareholder, according to Bloomberg. Son was born in 1957 to Korean immigrants on the Japanese island of Kyushu. The 61-year-old CEO was one of four brothers, and his father worked at restaurants, farms, and fisheries. In 1972, when he was 16, Son met one of his idols: McDonald's Japan founder Den Fujita, who encouraged him to go study in the United States. Son took his advice and moved to San Francisco the next year to continue high school. Son went on to study computer science and economics at the University of California at Berkeley. Before he was 21 years old, Son sold his first company, a multilingual translator bought by Sharp for about $1 million. In the 1980s, Son founded SoftBank, a company that today pours billions of dollars of capital into tech startups, including through its $100 billion Vision Fund. Through its Vision Fund, SoftBank has invested in major companies like Uber, WeWork, food-delivery startup DoorDash, and Indian e-commerce retailer Flipkart. Son's investment strategies are considered unconventional in Silicon Valley. The size of Son's $100 billion Vision Fund and its investment strategies have shocked Silicon Valley investors, according to Bloomberg. "The standard VC playbook involves making small, speculative investments in early-stage startups and adding funds in follow-on rounds as those startups grow," Sarah McBride, Selina Wing, and Peter Elstrom wrote for Bloomberg. "SoftBank's strategy has been to put enormous sums — its smallest deals are $100 million or so, its biggest are in the billions — into the most successful tech startups in a given category." Fast Company's Katrina Booker called Son "the most powerful person in Silicon Valley" for his ambitious vision — and financial means — to transform industries from real estate to food to transportation through his investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Like the rest of Silicon Valley, Son may soon have to reckon with the presence of Saudi Arabia in the US tech world. "Saudi Arabia's presence in Silicon Valley is greater than it's ever been," Alexei Oreskovic recently reported for Business Insider. The SoftBank CEO has direct ties to Saudi Arabia, which has been embroiled in human rights scandals and blamed for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is the SoftBank Vision Fund's largest backer, having contributed $45 billion of the fund's $100 billion bankroll. The SoftBank CEO is known for paying his executives handsomely. Six of SoftBanks' top executives made $83 million combined (9.1 billion yen) in compensation last year, while Son's salary rose to about $2.1 million (229 million yen), according to Bloomberg. "The range of executive salaries in Japan has gone up, but compensation in the billions of yen is still unheard of beyond a handful of global companies," Noriko Watanabe, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search company, told Bloomberg. Son owns millions of dollars worth of property in Tokyo, where SoftBank is headquartered. The SoftBank CEO owns about $45 million worth of residential property in Tokyo, according to Bloomberg. And in 2013, he spent $326 million on Tokyo's landmark Tiffany Building in the Ginza luxury shopping district. He also owns a $117.5 million Silicon Valley estate that comes with a 9,000-square-foot house, a 1,117-square-foot pool house, a detached library, a swimming pool, a tennis court, and formal gardens. Son bought the Woodside, California, property in 2012 from private equity investor Tully Friedman, according to Forbes. Son is married with two children but keeps his family life private. The CEO married Masami Ohno, the daughter of a prominent Japanese doctor, while they were both students at UC Berkeley, The Seoul Times reported. The couple reportedly has two daughters together, but little information about the family can be found online. Son's younger brother, Taizo Son, is also a billionaire. Taizo Son is an entrepreneur who has founded companies including GungHo Online Entertainment and Movida Japan. He's worth an estimated $1.2 billion, according to Forbes. The SoftBank CEO reportedly has personal relationships with billionaire CEOs and entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Rupert Murdoch, and Tadashi Yanai. Son has visited Ellison's Silicon Valley home, where he met Steve Jobs. Son reportedly once had a close relationship with WeWork's cofounder and former CEO Adam Neumann. Neumann told Business Insider in a recent interview that he and his wife, Rebekah, call Son "Yoda," in reference to the "Star Wars" character. "He is Yoda," Neumann said. "He has the Force with him." However, in September 2019 amid a failed IPO attempt by the coworking company, Son reportedly "lost faith" in Neumann and wanted him demoted, the Financial Times reported September 22. A couple of days later, Neumann stepped down as CEO. Now, SoftBank is taking control of WeWork in a deal that entails giving Neumann almost $1.7 billion and having him step down as chairman of the board, Maureen Farrell reported for The Wall Street Journal. Softbank lost at least $4.7 billion by investing in WeWork, according to the Journal. The SoftBank CEO has also publicly met with President Donald Trump on a few separate occasions, including at Trump Tower in New York a month after Trump was elected. At a June 2018 groundbreaking ceremony in Wisconsin for a new manufacturing facility for Foxconn, Trump praised SoftBank for increasing its investments in US companies. In May 2019, SoftBank announced the creation of a second $100 billion Vision Fund, after having already spent more than half of the first one. "Various investors from around the world are telling us they definitely want to participate in Vision Fund 2. We will set it up soon," Son said at the beginning of May, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal later reported that Son has been having trouble raising money for this new fund, a claim SoftBank disputes, as Business Insider's Paige Leskin reported. "While we don't comment on fundraising, much of The Wall Street Journal's reporting on investor sentiment is misleading and even inaccurate," a SoftBank spokesperson told Business Insider in an email in June. In July, the company announced commitments of $108 billion to its second Vision Fund. SoftBank confirmed that Apple, Foxconn, and others will invest in the fund, as well as Microsoft for the first time, Business Insider's Shona Gosh reported. Although Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund was the largest backer of the first Vision Fund, having contributed $45 billion of the fund's $100 billion bankroll, Saudi Arabia is missing from the list of backers for the new fund. Despite paying his executives billions of yen, Son continues to grow richer. In August 2012, Son had a net worth of $9.79 billion. Seven years later, he's more than $4 billion wealthier.