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Zensho Holdings Launches Hama Sushi in Beijing Amid Growing Appetite for Japanese Cuisine

Zensho aims to capture the capital's middle class market, expanding its conveyor-belt sushi brand in China's thriving food scene
z 7550.TSE Mid and Small Cap 2000
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Zensho Holdings, a prominent player in Japan’s restaurant industry, has made a strategic entrance into Beijing’s dynamic culinary landscape with the opening of its first Hama Sushi outlet. This move is part of a broader plan to tap into China’s burgeoning middle-class market, which has shown an increasing fondness for Japanese cuisine.

The new Hama Sushi restaurant, situated in Solana, one of Beijing’s expansive shopping complexes, marks a significant milestone in Zensho’s expansion strategy in China. The company’s presence in the country dates back to 2014 with its initial foray in Shanghai. Currently, Zensho boasts around 40 Hama Sushi locations across various Chinese cities, including Guangdong and Chongqing. The opening in Beijing, a hub for major corporations and a middle class with a penchant for Japanese culture, is expected to catalyze the growth of Zensho’s operations in China.

Zensho’s expansion comes at a time when China has halted imports of Japanese marine products due to concerns over treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. However, Hama Sushi’s limited reliance on Japanese seafood has allowed it to adapt seamlessly, substituting with predominantly Chinese-sourced ingredients.

The allure of conveyor-belt sushi, known for its affordability and variety, continues to grow in China. Following this trend, other Japanese sushi chains like Food & Life Cos. and Kura Sushi are also extending their reach in the country. Food & Life Cos., the entity behind the Sushiro brand, is broadening its network from Guangdong province to inland regions and eyeing openings in Beijing. Kura Sushi, a key competitor, established its first mainland outlet in Shanghai last year, signaling a competitive yet promising market for Japanese-style conveyor-belt sushi in China.

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