ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Publication Date : 13-09-2013
Gyudon beef bowl restaurant chains are releasing new lineups of higher-priced menus in addition to their flagship low-priced dishes to improve their sluggish business performance.
Yoshinoya Co., Japan's largest gyudon chain, will begin to offer its high-priced “butadon” pork bowl on Thursday. The price is 480 yen (US$4.82) for a regular-sized bowl.
Though Yoshinoya lowered the prices of its gyudon dishes in April, its revenues have not recovered as it had expected.
The gyudon restaurant chains will continue trial-and-error efforts in introducing new menus.
Yoshinoya’s new menu includes Rosu Butadon Tokachi-jitate (Tokachi flavor pork loin bowl). The dish contains a generous portion of sliced pork loin flavored with soy sauce from Hokkaido.
With the volume and flavour, Yoshinoya hopes to create a sense of luxury compared with its conventional butadon dishes.
Takeo Uzawa, chief of Yoshinoya’s planning headquarters, said: “Its quality is different from that of lower-priced gyudon dishes. We want to lure a new type of customer.”
After Yoshinoya lowered the price of regular gyudon dishes to 280 yen ($2.80) in April, the number of customers rapidly increased.
In April, the number rose 13.6 per cent from a year earlier, it rose 31 per cent in May and 22 per cent in June.
Along with the increase in customers, its sales rose as well.
But Yoshinoya’s profitability worsened because advertising and labour costs ballooned.
In July, Yoshinoya introduced a new dish, the Gyu Karubi Don, which uses higher-grade beef, priced at 480 yen for a regular size.
This was followed in August by another new dish, Yakitori Tsukune Don, which is topped with chicken meatballs and priced at 440 yen for a regular sized bowl.
By introducing the high- and low-priced items simultaneously, Yoshinoya aimed to lure a wide range of customers.
But since July, both the number of customers and sales have stopped growing.
Matsuya Foods Co., a rival chain of Yoshinoya, introduced its new dish on Thursday, the Shogadashi Gyu-meshi, bowl of rice topped with beef marinated in ginger, priced at 450 yen for a regular size.
The price is 170 yen higher than its conventional gyudon dish.
Sukiya, another rival chain, switched the base of its curry dishes from chicken to pork, and raised the price from 380 yen to 450 yen.
Due to the effects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy dubbed Abenomics, per-customer spending in family restaurants is rising.
Economists are watching to see whether the gyudon chains’ strategies with higher-priced menus will be accepted by consumers.
McDonald’s to change prices
McDonald’s Japan announced Tuesday that the hamburger chain will review its price system, including raising prices of some menu items from Friday.
Until recently, the chain set different prices in each prefecture. The new strategy’s main feature is to set prices based on each restaurant’s individual conditions, such as rent and the number of customers.
As a result, 3,234 of the chain’s restaurants, or 98 per cent, will raise prices by up to 50 yen.
But prices of some menu items at restaurants that pay high rent, such as those in airports and Tokyo’s Roppongi district, will rise by 50 yen or more.
But the hamburger chain will lower prices of some set menus in about 300 restaurants.