Kura Sushi Asia to start Taiwan OTC trading, eyeing regional expansion

15, Sep. 2020

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TAIPEI, NNA – The Taiwan subsidiary of one of the largest Japanese conveyor-belt sushi chains is set to be traded over-the-counter (OTC) from September 17 after raising more than $17 million in a successful initial public offering last Friday.

Kura Sushi Asia, which runs 29 stores in Taiwan, hopes the move will secure its position in the domestic market firmly before launching an expansion plan for China and SE Asian countries, said the company.

Set up in 2014, the Taiwan subsidiary of Kura Sushi Inc. has been trading on the Taipei Stock Exchange's Emerging Stock Board since July 2019 after public listing.

Apart from targeting local investors savvy with investing in Japanese businesses, the local chain hopes to increase its brand profile after launching OTC trading. It also hopes the higher market profile will enable it to attract better talent in its recruitment drive as well as keep good staff for its growth, a Kura Sushi Asia spokesman told NNA on Tuesday.

“Our company’s listing in the OTC market will help to boost investors’ confidence and prompt them to make long-term investments,” said the spokesman.

Attracting hordes of keen investors, its IPO (initial public offering) last week injected more than NT$500 million ($17.1 million) into the company. This is enough for “our mid-term goals such as opening the first outlet in other countries (outside Japan and Taiwan) in three years,” declared the spokesman.

Held last Friday, the online IPO subscription saw more than 537,890 applicants vying for 1,579 share slots, according to a news outlet.

The chain plans to add five to 10 new stores in Taiwan every year to reach 50, Kentaro Nishikawa, chairman of Kura Sushi Asia, said in a briefing to investors in August.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has held back the Taiwan chain from overseas expansion such as launching its first outlet in China this year.

It hopes to open up to 200 stores around the world in the long run, said Nishikawa.

The Taiwan subsidiary achieved 12.51 percent growth in sales to the tune of NT$1.48 billion during the January-August period this year, compared to the first eight months of 2019.

Last year, its sales hit NT$1.93 billion or a robust 34.2 percent growth, up from 2018. This is way above the 4.8 percent growth achieved by the entire dining sector in Taiwan, according to Kura Sushi's annual report.

Originating in Osaka city, Kura Sushi is one of the major kaiten or revolving sushi chains in Japan. Its entry in Taiwan was followed by Japanese rivals such as Sushiro, which trails behind with 19 stores. Another player, Hamasushi, has six outlets.

Kura Sushi, which began in 1977, has 466 stores in Japan. It has about two dozen outlets in America.