Western brands coming to Japan will face stiff competition on two fronts: franchising is well-established in the country and a clutch of Western brands have a strong foothold.
Among familiar names you will see often sandwiched between Japanese ramen and noodle outlets are big players McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Baskin Robbins, Subway, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Krispy Kreme donuts. Anytime Fitness and Curves are making inroads into the fitness market. Also making their marks are Shake Shack, Carl’s Jr, Honolulu Coffee, 800 Degrees pizzeria, Orangetheory Fitness, Hooters, Fatburger, The Counter Burger and Umami Burger.
Franchising is a two-way street in Japan and local concepts are franchising in South East Asia and beyond. Here is a selection of food and coffee concepts which have struck a chord with local consumers
This popular steak house chain serves a variety of cuts from high quality beef stock and backs it up with side orders of salads, soup and garlic rice.
The first Ikinari steakhouse opened in Tokyo in December 2013, and the business now has over 280 locations throughout Japan (as of July 2018).
Now the most popular steak restaurant in Japan, Ikinari Steak opened its first U.S. location in February 2017, and has eight locations throughout Manhattan.
Torikizoku, a casual eating chain established in Osaka, now has locations all over Japan. It specializes in Yakitori, a Japanese type of skewered chicken.
The chicken is locally raised and its preparation involves skewering the meat with kushi, before grilling over a charcoal fire and serving with a special sauce.
A good choice for gourmets on budgets, popular Torikizoku menu items include the standard yakitori fare Momo (chicken thigh) and Mune (chicken breast). Pieces of green onions are sandwiched between chicken breasts or thighs, the sweetness of the green onion complementing the chicken's umami.
Fast-casual restaurant chain MOS Burger is now the second-largest fast-food franchise in Japan, after McDonald's Japan, and owns numerous overseas outlets over East Asia, including Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, South Korea and, until 2005, Hawaii.
MOS Burger is also the name of the standard hamburger offered by the restaurant, being its first product when it opened in 1972.
In April 2011, MOS Burger opened its first store at Sunnybank Plaza, in Brisbane, Australia. As of May 2016, the company has six stores in Australia.
Japan can be a fertile ground for convenience stores. The country has more 7-Eleven locations than anywhere else in the world.
As of January 2018, Tokyo-based 7-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd., operates, franchises, and licenses some 64,319 stores in 18 countries, 2,601 of which are open for business
7-Eleven has stores in all prefectures of Japan, except Okinawa Prefecture.
Ichiro Fujita, founder and CEO of I. Fujita International, Inc, is a master in bringing international concepts to Japan. We sat...