The Asian grocery gets new leadership, including the first nonfamily chairman and a CEO from the third generation of the founding family.
Longtime Uwajimaya Chairman Tomio Moriguchi has retired from the board of the Seattle-based, family-owned Asian grocery chain, saying it’s time for him to step down as his daughter, Denise Moriguchi, takes over as CEO next month.
“Now that we have worked through the challenge of identifying the next generation of leadership, my work on the board is done and I am stepping aside to make room for them,” Tomio Moriguchi said in a statement.
Tomio Moriguchi, who led the Uwajimaya board for nearly 50 years, retired Dec. 31, according to a Uwajimaya news release. He will continue to work on developing the company’s real-estate holdings but will no longer be involved in its management and operations.
Moriguchi and his mother and siblings had run the company since the death of his father and company founder, Fujimatsu Moriguchi, in 1962.
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Tomio Moriguchi led the company as CEO for four decades starting in the late 1960s. He oversaw the move and growth of the company’s main store in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and its expansion into Bellevue, Renton and Beaverton, Ore.
He continued as chairman of Uwajimaya’s board after retiring as CEO in 2007, when his sister, Tomoko Moriguchi-Matsuno, took over as chief executive. Moriguchi-Matsuno will retire as CEO next month.
James Warjone, former chairman and CEO of Port Blakely Companies, a Seattle-based family-owned forestry and real-estate company, succeeds Tomio Moriguchi as Uwajimaya’s lead chair. He will be the first nonfamily board chair for Uwajimaya, according to the grocery chain.
“Tomio has provided strategic leadership and vision for the company from day one, making Uwajimaya what it is today,” Warjone said in a statement.
Founded in 1928, Uwajimaya, which also has a wholesale division, is planning to open a small market in South Lake Union. It also recently finished the redevelopment of the Publix Hotel into an apartment tower and retail space.