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MOS Burger trials Brisbane store as Japanese food groups eye Australia

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 | By Michelle Hammond

Competition in the fast food sector is set to be ratcheted up, with Japanese gourmet burger MOS Burger unveiling plans to open multiple Australian outlets.

 

MOS Burger was launched in Tokyo in the early 1970s by Satoshi Sakurada, and now has more than 1,630 outlets across Asia.

 

MOS – an acronym for Mountain, Ocean, Sun – is classified as fast food but its gourmet offering means customers typically wait ten minutes for their meals.

 

The company already operates an Australian outlet in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank, chosen for its high Asian population.

 

Since its opening in March, store sales have dramatically exceeded expectations, prompting the company to launch a nationwide rollout.

 

A second store will soon be established in Brisbane’s CBD, followed by the other capital cities and regional centres. The company says it is hoping to establish 30 outlets in five years.

 

According to Simon McNamara, a founding shareholder in healthy burger chain Grill’d, the casual dining segment is currently the strongest area of food retail, suggesting MOS Burgers is well positioned to gain market share.

 

“This is the segment that sits below a restaurant. They’re restaurants that are very quick and convenient. You’re getting restaurant-quality food and you’re getting it in a nice environment but you’re only paying $12-15,” he says.

 

“That segment has been doing well because people post-GFC are more dollar-conscious and more value-driven.”

 

Shinji Yamaguchi, MOS Burger head of international operations, told The Australian it made sense to select Australia as the company’s first target market outside of Asia.

 

“With the Japanese market [being stagnant], in the future we don’t think we can expand so much. After Asia, our target was Australia because it is close to Asia and there are a lot of Asian people there,” he said.

 

“We have a plan to go to Europe and the US and Canada. Before that, Australia is a very important country as a test run. That’s why we decided to open shops in Australia before going to other Western countries.”

 

Yamaguchi said McDonalds has more than 800 Australia stores while Hungry Jacks has more than 300, so there was no reason why MOS could not have 200 to 300 stores eventually.

 

MOS pitches itself as a healthier chain than its main rivals, with some burgers sold in pressed rice buns rather than traditional wheat buns.

 

It is unclear whether MOS will recruit Australian franchisees to operate its stores or whether the stores will all be company-owned.

 

However, the company website states: “The MOS franchise system authorises the right to exclusively operate MOS Burger to a single corporate entity in the extensive territories, namely countries or regions where MOS Burger has not advanced yet.”

 

“As such, in countries and regions other than Japan, we do not seek franchisees in small scale or individual capacity.”