• Kyodo

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Ootoya Holdings Co., operator of the struggling Japanese-style set-menu eatery chain, reshuffled its management Wednesday as part of turnaround efforts, heeding the proposal of its major shareholder Colowide Co., which succeeded in a hostile takeover bid of the chain.

At an extraordinary shareholders meeting, Ootoya’s shareholders approved the request by restaurant and bar chain operator Colowide to dismiss 10 of 11 board members including President Kenichi Kubota, with Masaya Yamamoto the only board member to retain his position to ensure a smooth handover of management.

The Yokohama-based company increased its stake to 46.77% stake in Ootoya in September after launching a hostile tender offer in July.

Seven new directors were appointed by the shareholders including Tomohito Mitsumori, 31, the oldest son of Ootoya founder Hisami Mitsumori who died in 2015.

Mitsumori and his mother sold their stakes in the struggling dining chain to Colowide last year following a conflict with Ootoya’s management.

Separately, Masaki Kuroudo, a senior managing executive officer of Colowide, was elected as the new president of Ootoya at a board meeting the same day.

As part of measures to turn around Ootoya’s business amid the prolonged impact of the novel coronavirus, Colowide told shareholders that it plans to lower the prices of dishes on Ootoya’s menu to attract more customers.

Ootoya said its same-store sales in six months through September declined 31.0% from a year earlier, as people apparently refrained from dining out as frequently as they did before the pandemic.

During the takeover bid period, Colowide said it would introduce cost-cutting efforts to improve Ootoya’s profitability by sharing its central kitchens and other logistics facilities as well as the joint procurement and food distribution.

Meanwhile, Ootoya said it would keep what it calls healthy “mom’s food” cooked on-site at each restaurant, arguing Colowide’s method of distributing prepared meals from its central kitchens to its outlets would “clearly lower” the quality of food.

As of the end of March, Colowide operated 2,665 restaurants including 227 overseas outlets in 12 countries and regions such as the United States and Taiwan, while Ootoya runs 347 restaurants in Japan and 116 in foreign countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

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