Independent Outside Director

The Strengths and Appeal of the AUTOBACS SEVEN Group
One of the major strengths of the AUTOBACS SEVEN Group is an infrastructure of nearly 600 stores nationwide, as well as the fact that the group interacts much more closely with customers than can be done by manufacturers. This allows the group to offer a wide selection of merchandise by listening to customers. Since the group consists of both directly managed stores and many franchise chain stores, I feel there is room for improvement in terms of consistency of intent and brand value improvement. But if the company takes the time to talk with franchisees, get their buy-in, and move forward in one major leap, I think the company can further highlight the best points the AUTOBACS.
I also feel that the company has a generous, personable, and open corporate culture. This quality comes across in board of director meetings, where there is a good balance between opinions from inside and outside the company and a very active exchange of views. I appreciate the fact that the attendance of outside directors at various meetings makes it easier to understand the actual situation at the company and to obtain sufficient information to identify issues.

Responsibilities as a Member of the Audit and Supervisory Committee
Being an outside director serving on the Audit and Supervisory Committee has been beneficial in the increased amount of internal information provided to us. Audit and Supervisory Committee members do not conduct on-the-ground audits, but rather conduct audits via reports received from the Corporate Audit Department. However, had there been no spread in COVID-19 infections, I would have been able to visit the front lines of the business and participate in activities with the younger team members, engaging in discussions. I was not able to see the situation for myself and confirm whether there was any sense of discomfort, which was a bit of a disappointment.
In the past, we received monthly reports about the Orange Hotline, the Group's internal reporting system, and serious incidents occurred in the Group regarded as key risk-related issues. It may be a single incident among many others, but it can be a serious one to the person involved. We believe the Company needs to raise the level of awareness in terms of safety and security and quality control. To this end, we endeavor to identify the essence of the problem by having employees report trends over a certain period of time, monitoring the rise or fall of the trend in question. In the future, it will be necessary not only to report cases, but to also pursue the underlying causes, establishing a system to roll out improvements nationwide.

Independent Outside Director
(Audit and Supervisory Committee Member)

Minesaburo Miyake

Independent Outside Director

The Strengths and Appeal of the AUTOBACS SEVEN Group
I think the strength of the AUTOBACS SEVEN Group is the clear concept of providing comprehensive merchandise and services related to automobiles through a nationwide network of stores, combined with strong brand recognition related to automotive goods. In addition, the Company is financially stable, which is another strength. On the other hand, the Company faces a challenge to establish new growth drivers. The Company is making various forays through its Overseas Business and Online Alliance Business. However, investors expect even faster and more profitable growth. In response, the Company will need to make even greater efforts for growth in the coming years.
Currently, the business environment is changing in dramatic ways as companies attempt to respond to the demands of the SDGs and the TCFD, all while climate change issues become increasingly important. But this is also an opportunity for growth. The Company must identify trends related to automobiles, including electric vehicles and autonomous driving. From there, the Company will have to pursue management from a mediumto long-term perspective. Identifying social issues and materialities, which the Company began doing in the previous fiscal year, is a prerequisite for long-term growth. The Chief Executive Officer and other members of the management team are clearly committed to these issues, which is extremely important.

AUTOBACS SEVEN Group Issues and Vision for the Future
The Group is following a Five-year Rolling Plan based on our long-term vision, Vision 2050 – Creating Our Future Together. To achieve these medium- to long-term goals, I believe it is necessary to build a corporate culture that aims to grow by taking on challenges in new fields, rather than staying with the status quo. In this way, the Company will continue to create a culture related to cars no matter how the environment changes. This is not an easy task. But I think AUTOBACS SEVEN is moving steadily in a direction where the younger generation of staff is more active and the Company as a whole welcomes new changes.
On the other hand, the Company needs to make further efforts to empower women. For a company to grow in the midst of change, it is essential to promote diversity, especially gender diversity. AUTOBACS SEVEN has a system in place that allows female employees to enjoy a lengthy career work regardless of lifestyle changes. However, the fact remains that the number of women in certain positions is low. With few role models within the Company, many issues remain to be addressed. These issues include how to motivate female employees and build their careers, how to create a system that raises female employees to important positions, etc. Although the Company has made some progress, such as setting targets for the percentage of women at group manager or above, the current situation is far from satisfactory and the Company must make further efforts.
AUTOBACS SEVEN is tackling these and other issues. One task of the outside directors in this context is to review the progress of these issues at Board of Director meetings, continuing to encourage the executive management team in their efforts. An independent outside director may be able to see more clearly what a company must do over the long term in light of major global trends, and what investors look for from a medium- to long-term perspective. As outside directors, we will continue to provide feedback to management on the viewpoints of these key external stakeholders, striving to link corporate governance reforms in progress to concrete improvements in corporate value.

Independent Outside Director

Yoshiko Takayama