McDonald’s Japan ready to roll (out) again

McDonald’s Japan plans to open more stores this year, its first expansion in a decade.

At the same time, rival Burger King is working on tripling its Japanese locations to 300 by 2022 at a cost of ¥5 billion (US$45.5 million).

With a 4.5-fold increase in group net profit last year, McDonald’s Holdings logged a record ¥24 billion. It aims to open 150 to 200 locations in the next three years. With closures taken into account, it expects a net increase of about 100.

“Over the past several years we were focusing on optimising our store portfolio,” says president Sarah Casanova. “Now it is time to look to opportunities to grow with new restaurants.”

Following a peak in 2002, the number of McDonald’s locations in Japan has been declining. The chain now has 2900 outlets, a drop of about 1000.

The turnaround for the burger market is mainly because of record numbers of tourists in Japan, 28.6 million last year.

Burger King Japan plans to open most of its 200 new restaurants in cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Target locations include shopping-centre food courts and suburban sites with room for a drive-through. A home-delivery service will be offered to counter the move last year by McDonald’s Japan to partner with Uber Eats.

After a slump, Burger King left Japan in 2001, returning in 2007. Its current expansion drive follows a Hong Kong investment fund acquiring the Japan rights from Burger King. It is also revamping its product lineup.

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