Seven & i Holdings (a.k.a. sebun ando ai hōrudingusu) is the Japanese parent company of the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores.
In a fascinating case of corporate patriphagy, Seven & i Holdings was created when the Japanese 7-Eleven franchisee of the originally US-based 7-Eleven Inc. proved so successful that it was able to buy out its parent company in 2005. Anyone who has been to Japan can understand how this could have happened, as convenience stores (known to the Japanese by the truncated loanword konbini) are absolutely ubiquitous, with about one every block, and are phenomenally successful in a society in which most people spend part of their day walking between train stations and work or home, often late at night or early in the morning when nothing else is open and they are extremely hungry or thirsty.
But since it was technically impossible for a franchisee to buy out its own parent, a new corporation with a new name had to be created, and thus "Seven & i Holdings" was born. The "i" stands for Ito Yokado - the Japanese chain of department stores which is also owned by the company. In Japan, all 7-11 convenience stores have recently changed the signs on their storefronts to "Seven & i Holdings," inexplicably replacing a well known and established international brand name with the name of the holding company itself, but the rest of the company's more than 32,000 stores world-wide (the largest chain store in history) continue to be called just plain old "7-Eleven."
Already the largest retail corporation in Japan, and one of the few largest retail corporations in the world, Seven & i Holdings continues to agressively expand, recently purchasing the Sogo and Seibu Japanese department store chains, and pursuing an agressive expansion of 7-Eleven franchising world-wide. As of 2007, a new 7-Eleven convenience store opens somewhere in the world every 5 hours, and in the United States alone, 1000 new stores are set to open for business by 2010.