Ichiran mulls more outlets

Japanese noodle restaurant chain Ichiran is looking to expand its Hong Kong footprint.
“I seriously think the Hong Kong market has surpassed New York, and even Tokyo, in terms of existing business opportunities,” Ichiran president and CEO Manabu Yoshitomi told InvestHK in an interview.
Having opened two outlets since launching its 50 year old concept in Hong Kong in 2013, the company is now eyeing a third, possibly on Hong Kong Island or in the New Territories, before considering the Mainland.
“There are challenges ahead, but the key is to maintain quality and taste, and keep customers coming back to our shop,” said Yoshitomi.
“Our menu always has the signature noodles but we constantly develop new ideas and new products. For example, the dessert menu is changing to meet female customers’ tastes,” he said.
Ichiran Hong Kong frontBefore and during Ichiran’s inception in Hong Kong, InvestHK provided various means of support, including market information and recruitment advice, assistance in visa applications, public relations services and networking opportunities to facilitate the firm’s smooth setup in Hong Kong.
Ichiran specialises in producing high-quality classic ramen. When opening its first overseas store in Causeway Bay’s prime shopping district, the restaurant quickly realised the secret to running a successful food business in this cosmopolitan city: authenticity, and an innovative restaurant experience and ordering system — fill out an order form to customise your ramen, press a button to call staff, and then concentrate on flavour.
“Hong Kong people’s craving for Japanese cuisines creates traction on both supply and demand sides,” Yoshitomi.
“The performance of the Causeway Bay store is phenomenal, beyond our expectations.”
Yoshitomi says InvestHK and the Kyushu Economic Federation gave the company the confidence to set up in Hong Kong.
A second branch opened in June this year in Tsim Sha Tsui, after the concept’s popularity was evidenced by long queues of customers outside the Causeway Bay site.
Operating around-the-clock, Ichiran hired 90 local staff initially, and the new opening expanded its staff to 300. Located near the iconic K11 Art Mall, the Tsim Sha Tsui store has a larger gross area than its Causeway Bay counterpart. It provides 182 seats in two different settings — “Yatai” (a classic 1960’s Japanese food stall) and separate “compartments” for individual indulgence.
Founded in 1960 in Hakata, Fukuoka, Ichiran operates more than 50 restaurants in Japan.

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