Carl’s Jr. to re-enter Japan, aim for 150 burger bars nationwide

by

Staff Writer

U.S. hamburger chain operator CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc. said Friday it will open a Carl’s Jr. outlet in Tokyo next year before a nationwide rollout that will represent its second stab at the Japanese market since 1989.

Its local partner will be Tokyo-based Mitsuuroko Group Holdings Co., whose main business is providing gas and power. Mitsuuroko said Friday it had set up Carl’s Jr. Japan Inc. to run the restaurants.

CKE Restaurants said the first store will open in Tokyo next fall and that it aims to open 150 nationwide in the next 10 years.

Ned Lyerly, head of CKE’s international division, said that the firm is expanding overseas and that the time is right to enter Japan, Asia’s biggest burger market.

He said CKE is still researching the market and hasn’t set prices yet. But he also said Carl’s Jr. wasn’t coming to offer another budget burger.

“We will not be focused on being a low-price brand. We’ll focus on delivering quality taste innovation and a premium experience at a fair price,” Lyerly said.

Asked how Carl’s Jr. will survive the intense competition, Mitsuuroko CEO Kohei Tajima said there are advantages in being a latecomer and that a cautious strategy will be used.

“We need to create menus that match Japanese tastes. If we can add Japanese original menus on top of the standard Carl’s Jr. menus, we will have a very good chance,” he said.

CKE Restaurant runs 1,149 Carl’s Jr. stores in the U.S. and 345 overseas.