More Japanese eateries venture overseas

10:26 SGT June 12, 2017
Industry leader Zensho plans to reach a record 126 Sukiya outlets, of which 77 will be in mainland China, 13 in Taiwan and eight in Indonesia.

As the domestic market nears saturation, more Japanese food and beverage purveyors are looking to customers abroad to grow their business.

Zensho Holdings and Yoshinoya Holdings – two of Japan’s major beef bowl restaurant operators – plan to open more outlets abroad than at home.

Industry leader Zensho plans to launch 10 new Sukiya restaurants in Japan during its financial year to March but it aims to open a record 126 Sukiya outlets elsewhere, of which 77 will be in mainland China, 13 in Taiwan and eight in Indonesia.

Yoshinoya, too, plans to launch at 103 overseas locations during its financial year to February – twice the number opened last year – including 52 in China and 20 in Indonesia.

By comparison, only 50 more Yoshinoya restaurants are planned for the domestic market. Apart from boosting the number of outlets, the two Japanese operators are also introducing new elements into some of their stores.

Zensho is developing new formats with interior designs different from those in Japan, including featuring Japanese anime characters. Sales at a location in Brazil are said to have jumped by over 10% since the restaurant was re-modelled last October.

Restaurants in the new format are to open in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. Yoshinoya, too, recently opened a new style of restaurant in Shenzhen, China. The outlet offers smartphone chargers at customers’ seats, and it also plans to open a restaurant in Malaysia with a halal menu.

Meanwhile, Singapore Myanmar Investco (SMI) looks set to launch Japanese ramen restaurant chain Ippudo in Myanmar early next year.

“We see abundant growth opportunities within the F&B retail market in Myanmar, and the time is right for us to introduce the Ippudo brand and cuisine to the growing middle class,” said SMI president/CEO Mark Bedingham.