With its return to Japan Friday after 19 years, U.S.-based hamburger chain Carl’s Jr. says it is confident it can penetrate the market amid increasing demand for better burgers.
“We’re extremely confident about our brand and our business. We have a best-in-class menu platform that really positions us well against our competitors,” Ned Lyerly, president of parent CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc.’s international business, said at its Akihabara store in Tokyo on Wednesday ahead of its launch.
He said Carl’s Jr.’s food is freshly made, with 100 percent Angus beef used in its chargrilled Thickburger series.
Lyerly said the company aimed to open 150 stores in Japan in 10 years, with its local unit, Carl’s Jr. Japan, flagging more stores in other areas of Tokyo this year.
Masato Watanabe, who heads Carl’s Jr. Japan, said the price range of ¥490 to about ¥1,200 accommodated customers both seeking cheaper and more premium burgers.
Carl’s Jr. first entered the Japanese market in 1989 but withdrew in 1997.
Lyerly said now was a good time to re-enter the market. “The better burger business has really expanded and people’s demand for better, higher quality burgers has expanded here in Tokyo and globally,” he said. “. . . We are perfectly positioned for that.”
The Carl’s Jr. relaunch comes after Mos Burger opened a restaurant-style shop serving gourmet burgers in November, while fellow U.S. burger chain Shake Shack entered the local market the same month.
“Rather than fighting to draw customers from rivals, I think we will be co-existing,” said Watanabe.