Sushi equipment maker sees growth in the UK

Japan’s largest manufacturer of automatic sushi-making equipment is betting on the UK to help it ride high in the international market place.

Suzumo Machinery Company, which has been making sushi machines for restaurants since 1981, is bidding to ramp up its overseas activities this year, buoyed by the global popularity of sushi and a sharp decline in the yen during the past six months.

The company has revealed plans to triple overseas sales to as many as 3,000 units this year and double the headcount of staff working outside of Japan.

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Britain is expected to be an important market for the company, with interest in sushi at an all-time high. More than 500 Japanese restaurants are estimated to be operating in the country and many are understood to already be using Suzumo’s equipment.

One of Suzumo Machinery’s biggest clients in the UK is high-street chain YO! Sushi.

“A weaker yen will make it easier for us to do business,” Suzumo Machinery president Ikuya Oneda told The Japan Times. “Sushi is becoming popular, not just because of being a healthy choice but also for being inexpensive. Our machines are helping [customers] reduce labour costs.”

The newspaper reported that Suzumo recorded annual sales of JPY6.85 billion (£45m) for the year ending March 31, but it is aiming to get to JPY10 billion (£66m) in the “midterm”.

Suzumo’s equipment produces large quantities of rice blocks and sushi rolls. It aims to be selling its robotic sushi and rice ball machines in more than 100 countries by the end of the year.

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