Despite the outbreak of mad cow disease in September, Yoshinoya D&C Co., Japan’s largest operator of “gyudon” beef bowl restaurants, scored record sales and profits on both a consolidated and unconsolidated basis for the business year through February, company officials said Tuesday.

The company attributed the gains to successful sales campaigns and discounts.

On a consolidated basis, Yoshinoya’s pretax profit rose 5.1 percent from the previous year to 17.17 billion yen, while consolidated operating profit rose 3.9 percent to 16.12 billion yen. Group sales jumped 6.1 percent from a year earlier to 149.23 billion yen.

But net profit plunged 23.3 percent from a year earlier to 4.49 billion yen due to a one-time charge from changes in its pension and retirement allowance systems.

On a parent-only basis, Yoshinoya reported a pretax profit of 16.41 billion yen, up 1.3 percent from the previous year, and operating profit of 15.72 billion yen, up 3.4 percent. Sales leaped 10.2 percent to 87.96 billion yen.

Net profit, however, dropped 10.9 percent compared with the previous year to 5.72 billion yen.

Yoshinoya President Shuji Abe said that if the brain-wasting disease had not broken out, the company could have made an additional 4 billion yen in sales and 1.8 billion yen in operating profit on an unconsolidated basis.

“The public’s concern over beef products has almost been wiped out now, but I think the mad cow problem has changed consumers’ dietary habits,” he said. “Families with small children use our restaurants less frequently nowadays. We need to think about how to cope with this situation.”

For the current business year through February, 2003, Yoshinoya forecasts group sales of 159 billion yen, consolidated pretax profit of 18.5 billion yen and consolidated net profit of 13 billion yen.

On a parent-only basis, the firm predicts sales of 95 billion yen, pretax profit of 17.5 billion yen, and net profit of 9.55 billion yen.

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