Japan’s Kura Corporation plans to octuple the number of its Kura Sushi conveyor-belt restaurants in Taiwan to 40 by 2024.
Its present five sushi-train restaurants are mainly in urban areas, but it plans to move to the suburbs with outlets along busy streets. It plans to open five restaurants this year.
Kura opened its first restaurant outside Japan in Taiwan in 2014. The five outlets in Taiwan are smaller than their Japanese counterparts, with up to 30 per cent fewer seats. Kura shops in Japan can seat an average of 200 diners. However, on a per-restaurant basis, the group’s Taiwan revenue almost matches that of the outlets in Japan.
Reservations can be made online up to two weeks in advance, with the Taiwan restaurants usually fully booked for lunch and dinner.
With rents rising almost every year in Taiwan as land prices surge, Kura has decided to switch its expansion focus to the suburbs where long-term contracts are still possible. Kura Taiwan president Kentaro Nishikawa also says there are “many more benefits out there”.
While the Taiwan division only broke even in its last fiscal year, it expects to turn a profit this year.
Nishikawa says it is hard to manage restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages in Taiwan because Taiwanese usually spend little on dining out and do not drink much. He says many customers come in groups and stay for conversation long after finishing their meals.
He says Kura will add curry rice using vinegared rice, plus other dishes to its menus in Taiwan. It will also differentiate the Taiwan restaurants from the Japan chain by offering fresh fish bought from local markets and cut in front of the customer.
Kura also has restaurants in the US and is looking to spread to other countries.