Sumo Sushi & Bento, a Dubai-based Japanese cuisine restaurant chain, is planning its India foray. The restaurant chain has signed up FranGlobal as its local partners and plans to open up to 25 stores in the next five years.

The first restaurant is expected to open in six months in either Delhi or Mumbai.

“India is a vibrant and exciting country and people are demanding new cuisines and we will hit the mark on it. There’s already awareness, interest and curiosity among Indians around Japanese cuisine especially fusion oriented food. Sumo has been successfully running its chain of restaurants for 20 years catering to Middle East customers who have a very cosmopolitan taste. There’s also a big Indian customer base in Dubai hence we feel that India reasonably should be a scalable market for the brand," said Julianne Holt Kailihiwa, chief executive officer, Sumo Sushi & Bento.

Sumo Sushi & Bento has been serving sushi in Dubai and throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for more than 19 years, providing a unique family friendly, authentic Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant caters to a cosmopolitan mix of customer base offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. In Dubai, the restaurant chain offers two full pages of vegetarian fare which it expects will do well in India as well.

“Although we are open to regionalization and customisation as we grow in the country," added Kailihiwa.

The chain will focus on major urban hubs including cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. The target customer base will be the well-travelled, educated, digitally savvy and aware of the cuisine.

“Our biggest challenge is to provide good quality product at a competitive price because the raw material used in Japanese cuisine is expensive. Our quality matches the ones offered in a five-star hotel. We also plan to introduce beer and wine in the menu," said Venus Barak, chief executive, Franglobal.

The average order size at the restaurant tends to be around $20 (amounting to 1, 400) per person.

According to the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), Indian food services industry’s market size was 4.23 lakh crore in 2018-19 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9% to reach 6 lakh crore over the next five years. The association, in a recent report, said that though Indians prefer North Indian, Chinese and South Indian cuisines, exotic cuisines such as Japanese have been gaining popularity especially in urban markets.

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