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Restaurant chain Yoshinoya D&C Co. said Friday it chalked up a group net profit of 224 million yen in the first half of the current business year, a turnaround from a loss of 467 million yen a year earlier, on a 3.7 percent rise in sales to 62.25 billion yen.

Pretax profit in the March-August period grew 41.3 percent to 863 million yen, said Yoshinoya, once Japan’s top server of “gyudon” beef-on-rice dishes.

The company attributed the improved showing to stepped-up cost-cutting and sales promotions, including the continued introduction of new dishes as an alternative to gyudon, which was removed from its menu following Japan’s now-lifted import ban on U.S. beef over fear of mad cow disease.

However, the results fell short of earlier projections due to the effects of preparations to resume serving gyudon, though temporarily, as a result of Japan’s partial resumption of U.S. beef imports.

In a report in late September, Yoshinoya said bringing gyudon back on Sept. 18, about 31 months after the popular meal was struck from the menu, resulted in a drop in sales and profit because the company discontinued advertisements of existing dishes and recruited some 2,000 additional part-time workers as part of preparations.

For its business year to Feb. 28, Yoshinoya expects a net profit of 1.8 billion yen and a pretax profit of 3.9 billion yen on sales of 136.2 billion yen, compared with the previous year’s net loss of 387 million yen and a pretax profit of 2.18 billion yen on sales of 122.39 billion yen.

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