AP Company plans Hong Kong base

After opening its Tsukada Nojo restaurant in Hong Kong, Japanese restaurant group AP Company plans to open a second eatery this year, and use the territory as a springboard into Asia.

It had eyed the Hong Kong market for years before introducing its leading brand in Harbour City’s Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. With a harbour view, the restaurant features collagen-rich chicken hotpot in a concept targeting health- and beauty-conscious diners, reports HK Foreign Direct Investment, the quarterly newsletter of Invest HK.

AP Company MD Masashi Kamatani says Hong Kong is crucial for the company’s continuous expansion in Asia. “It is the key market for our success. The city has a very mature dining culture, while the customers have strong spending power and are curious about new tastes and dining experiences.”

He says the Hong Kong branch, after just eight months in business, has the highest sales and average spend-per-customer among the group’s 200 restaurants in Japan, as well as a handful of outlets in the region including Beijing, Jakarta and Singapore.

“For businesses, Hong Kong has a very sophisticated and stable market. Even though it’s competitive, there is always room for new restaurants and abundant opportunities available.”

Kamatani encourages the staff to talk with customers to find out their levels of satisfaction and their expectations, and he visits different restaurants every day to understand F&B trends and see what competitors are offering.

He says that for AP Company, the most important thing is constant communicate with customers and modifying products and services to meet their expectations.

In the next few years, the company aims to open 20 more restaurants in Hong Kong, and with franchise branches opening in Cambodia and the Philippines this year, it will eventually make Hong Kong its headquarters for overseas business.

“Hong Kong is a compact city where it’s easy to launch a business,” says Kamatani. “It is in the heart of Asia, which makes it convenient for us to manage our branches in Japan and Southeast Asia.”

He thinks InvestHK provides a great platform for businesses. “When I started, I didn’t know much about government policy or the market environment in Hong Kong, so I turned to InvestHK for help. The information and industry news have been very helpful for me to understand what needs to be done.”

Established in 2001, AP Company has more than 200 restaurants in Japan and more than 20 F&B brands. It also has six outlets in Singapore, five in Beijing and one in Jakarta, and this year will open a second Hong Kong restaurant in Shatin.

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