Japanese fast-food chain to open Nairobi outlet in February


Global fast-food chain Teriyaki Japan outlet at Corner House in Nairobi on January 20, 2014. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

A Japan-based international fast-food restaurant chain is set to open in Nairobi next month, adding to a growing list of global eateries that have established a presence in Kenya’s capital over the past two years.

Toridoll Corporation, which is based in Kobe city, is putting the final touches to Teriyaki Japan — one of its four restaurant brands — on Mama Ngina Street, near Corner House.

Teriyaki Japan is mainly known for its grilled chicken.

“We have invested about Sh100 million in the first store and we plan to open late next month or the first week of March. The store shall have around 40 employees,” said Toridoll Kenya managing director Nobuto Tsutsui.

The chain plans to open 10 outlets in Nairobi and a similar number in other towns across the country over the next two years. It also has plans to expand regionally into Tanzania and Uganda.

The upcoming restaurant will be operated by Toridoll Kenya Limited, a Toridoll Corp’s subsidiary set up last April to oversee the company’s investments in Africa.

Toridoll Kenya is 90 per cent owned by Toridoll Corp. with the rest of the shareholding being held by a local company that imports and sells printing ink from Japan.

American fast-food chains Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Subway and Cold Stone have opened Nairobi outlets in recent years, attracted by an expanding middle class population with rising purchasing power.

READ: Nairobi's growing wealth attracts world's food chains

Toridoll Corp is currently doing business in nine countries, with 79 outlets operated either through subsidiaries, joint ventures or franchisee agreements.

The countries include Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, the United States and Indonesia.

It has more than 850 stores in Japan, its main restaurant brand being Marugame Seimen which specialises in Udon, a wheat flour noodle dish popular in the country.

Some Japanese-themed fast-food outlets currently in Kenya include Tokyo Restaurant and Haru Japanese Restaurant both which are in Karen, Misono on Ngong Road and Furasato in Westlands in Nairobi. These restaurants serve a wide range of dishes.

Toridoll Corp. decided to open shop in Kenya due to “rapid economic growth and a population increase”, according to Japanese media firm Asia and Japan Watch which first reported the plans.

Kenya’s financial accounts were rebased last year, placing its gross domestic product for 2013 at Sh4.75 trillion, 25 per cent higher than the earlier estimate of Sh3.8 trillion.

The rebasing saw Kenya join the world’s league of middle-income nations, exiting the previous low-income group.

KFC, one of the most popular chicken restaurants globally, and Subway expanded into Kenya in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

American fast food chain Domino’s Pizza and ice cream seller Cold Stone Creamery as well as South African-based Ocean Basket — a sea food diner — opened their maiden outlets in Nairobi last November.

Multinationals such as IBM, Google, Visa and MoneyGram have also chosen the city either as their regional or Africa headquarters.

“The fact that these companies are investing in the country is a strong vote of confidence in our economy,” X N Iraki, a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi told the Business Daily in a past interview.

“They’re seeing something. Multinationals view Kenya as a testing ground from where they can penetrate other countries in the region.”

Kenya’s youths — those aged between 18 and 34 years — constitute more than a third of the population. Nearly 80 per cent of the country’s citizens are less than 35 years old, according to the UNDP.