Business / Corporate

U.S. unit of Japanese conveyor belt sushi chain Kura Sushi makes Nasdaq debut

Kyodo

Japanese conveyor belt sushi chain Kura Sushi Inc.’s U.S. unit made a firm debut Thursday on the Nasdaq market, its shares ending above $19 after rising from its initial public offering price of $14.

The parent company said Kura Sushi USA Inc. aims to expand its restaurant chain across the United States with cash of more than ¥5 billion ($47 million) accumulated through its IPO. The U.S. unit currently runs 22 sushi bars in California, Texas, Georgia, Illinois and Nevada.

“There is a chance for the Japan-born fast food sushi” to succeed in the U.S. market, Kura Sushi President Kunihiko Tanaka said at a news conference in New York, while admitting it faced a big challenge taking on established brands like McDonald’s.

Kura Sushi set up a U.S. unit in 2008 and opened its first restaurant in the country in California the following year. The company claims it is the only Japanese conveyor belt sushi chain operator doing business extensively in the United States.

Among Japanese restaurant chain operators, Pepper Food Service Co., the operator of the Ikinari Steak steakhouse chain, listed its American depositary receipts on the Nasdaq stock market in September last year.

But the steakhouse operator announced in June that it will be delisted from Nasdaq by the autumn after seeing a sluggish U.S. performance.