Wendy’s/Arby’s International Inc and Higa Industries Co Ltd, a successful food importer and distributor based in Tokyo, have signed a joint venture agreement to develop and operate Wendy’s restaurants in Japan.
Higa Industries is led by Ernest Higa, who owned and operated 180 Domino’s Pizza stores in Japan before selling the business in February 2010. A pioneer of the Japanese home delivery market, Higa’s stores became known for gourmet pizza products and the use of the Internet and wireless technology to promote menu items and enhance the customer ordering experience.
This is the first joint venture for Wendy’s/Arby’s International. In December 2009, Wendy’s did not renew its franchise agreement with its former franchisee for Japan, Zensho, resulting in the closing of 71 restaurants.
Higa said that since that time, there had been a huge Wendy’s following in Japan that developed on social media, urging Wendy’s to return to the Japanese market.
Higa said that Wendy’s Japan will feature the company’s new Project Gold Hamburger (a remake of its 42-year-old hamburger brand), warmer, crunchier buns, as well as traditional items like baked potatoes and salad lines. Besides the signature products, he said that Wendy’s Japan will differentiate from its competitors by adding new products like premium sandwiches and hamburgers with gourmet toppings, all served in a contemporary atmosphere that should “exceed the expectations of Japanese consumers.”
At present, Higa Industries is importing and distributing to the institutional trade ethnic food products and ingredients, such as basil, avocado, pimento, garlic and olive oil.